Mitch Evans prevailed in the changing conditions and led home Campos Racing teammate Sean Gelael – despite starting 10th and 18th respectively – to win an action-packed GP2 Series Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring.

In a race that was started after a 15-minute delay, it was the PREMA pair of Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly who led off the line, having overtaken pole sitter Sergey Sirotkin at the start.

The Frenchman followed his team mate closely and it only took a few laps for him to grab the lead and set a blistering pace, posting fastest laps and establishing a comfortable lead from the Italian until Lap 15 when rain hit the Austrian circuit.

Strangely, the rain only affected Turn 2 and the following straight, while the rest of the track remained dry. This caught out Gasly who slid out into the gravel at Turn 3 and was beached, triggering the race’s first Safety Car period and handing the lead back to Giovinazzi.

As the Safety Car peeled off, Giovinazzi slid wide into Turn 1, handing the lead to his Italian compatriot Raffaele Marciello who was on a charge. The PREMA driver managed to retake his position shortly after and maintained a small advantage over Marciello in second and the impressive Luca Ghiotto in third.

With the rain still soaking only the top part of the track, Marvin Kirchhöfer lost his car coming out of Turn 2 and stopped across the track, thus bringing out a second Safety Car.

The Italian lead trio pitted under the caution and left Trident’s Philo Paz Armand to lead from Sean Gelael and Mitch Evans. Series leader Artem Markelov also pitted behind the Safety Car but crashed his Russian Time car coming out of the pits and damaged the barriers, bringing the race to a full stop.

Under red flags, Armand was given a ten-second penalty after he was found to have overtaken the Safety Car, while Giovinazzi, Marciello and Ghiotto lost their track advantage having pitted behind the Safety Car and just before the race was stopped.

Twenty minutes later, the race was resumed with the Safety Car leading the Campos pair. Giovinazzi, however, stalled in the pits and failed to rejoin the race, to be joined out of the classification by ART’s René Binder who suffered the same fate.

On the restart, Evans muscled past Gelael and stayed there until the finish. Behind them, Marciello fought back to finish third, elevating himself to the top of the Series standings while Ghiotto managed to get back and finish fourth having looked a handy bet all weekend long.

Arden’s Jimmy Eriksson started from the pits with a penalty but benefited from an early pit stop to finish a career-best fifth after a brilliant battle with MP Motorsport’s Oliver Rowland who finished sixth.

Norman Nato finished seventh while Sirotkin continued his habit of slipping back during the race to finish eighth, before later being penalised for overtaking several drivers before the Safety Car line. He and ninth-placed finisher Gustav Malja were both awarded 30-second time penalties, promoting Jordan King to the reversed-grid pole position for Sunday’s Sprint Race, which starts at 10:25 local time (GMT +2) and will be run over 28 laps.

2016 GP2 Series Austria – Feature Race Provisional Classification (40 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Mitch Evans nz Pertamina Campos Racing 40 1:18:32.399
2. Sean Gelael id Pertamina Campos Racing 40 + 4.600
3. Raffaele Marciello it RUSSIAN TIME 40 + 10.789
4. Luca Ghiotto it Trident 40 + 12.363
5. Jimmy Eriksson se Arden International 40 + 12.691
6. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 40 + 15.557
7. Norman Nato fr Racing Engineering 40 + 16.559
8. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 40 + 22.762
9. Arthur Pic fr Rapax 40 + 24.738
10. Nicholas Latifi ca DAMS 40 + 25.629
11. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 40 + 27.000
12. Sergey Sirotkin* ru ART Grand Prix 40 + 49.708
13. Gustav Malja* se Rapax 40 + 50.258
14. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 39 1 lap behind
15. Philo Paz Armand id Trident 39 1 lap behind
16. René Binder at ART Grand Prix 38 Clutch
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps
DNF. Antonio Giovinazzi it PREMA Racing 29 Clutch
DNF. Artem Markelov ru RUSSIAN TIME 28 Accident
DNF. Marvin Kirchhöfer de Carlin 26 Spin
DNF. Pierre Gasly fr PREMA Racing 17 Spin
DNF. Nabil Jeffri my Arden International 1 Damage
DNF. Sergio Canamasas es Carlin 0 Collision

*Post-Race Penalties:

  • Sergey Sirotkin – who was originally classified in P8 – was found guilty of failing to re-establish his original starting position before the Safety Car line and of failing to re-enter the pit lane. The ART Grand Prix driver overtook three cars whilst the race was being resumed, between the first and second Safety Car lines. He had 30 seconds added to his elapsed racing time in lieu of serving a 10-second stop/go penalty and was reclassified in P12.
  • Gustav Malja – who was originally classified in P9 – was found guilty of overtaking Mitch Evans, Sean Gelael and the Safety Car during a full-course caution. He had 30 seconds added to his elapsed racing time in lieu of serving a 10-second stop/go penalty and was reclassified in P13.

Images via GP2 Series Media

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8