Antonio Giovinazzi has overcome the odds to win a thrilling GP2 Series Feature Race at Monza from the back row of the grid.

The Italian had originally qualified second-fastest behind PREMA Racing teammate and chief title rival Pierre Gasly but was excluded from qualifying after post-session inspections found his tyre pressures were below the minimum permitted limit. He was consequently sent to the back of the grid to start from 21st place.

Gasly lead the race early on from pole position and was four seconds clear of second-placed Arthur Pic in second before making his compulsory pit stop for prime tyres. Giovinazzi, having started on the prime tyres, gained track position as the option-shod runners pitted and was up to third behind Raffaele Marciello and Gustav Malja.

His big break came thanks to the Safety Car being deployed when Pic sent Carlin’s Sergio Canamasas into a frightening roll as the pair battled into the second Lesmo corner. Mercifully the Spaniard emerged unscathed.

The Safety Car picked up fourth-placed Gasly, leaving the leading trio free ahead to make their mandatory pit stops and emerge in the back of the pack, effectively a lap ahead of the rest of the field.

The remaining runners were released from behind the Safety Car to rejoin behind Marciello, Malja and Giovinazzi before the race was restarted with eight laps to go.

Giovinazzi easily dispatched Malja for second place and set out to chase his compatriot who had quickly built a one-second gap in front.

A shot at a first race win of a remarkably consistent season was ultimately denied from Marciello, who was passed on the final lap by Giovinazzi. The pair almost locked wheels through the Retifillo chicane, but it was Giovinazzi who emerged ahead to claim his fourth win of the season and head an Italian 1-2 finish to trim his points deficit to Gasly to just 8 points.

Malja held on from Gasly to claim his second podium finish in a truly extraordinary race. For Gasly, the result marked disappointment in a race that seemed to be his for the taking until the Safety Car intervention.

Behind him, former championship leader Norman Nato finished fifth ahead of Luca Ghiotto, Jordan King and Mitch Evans, who claims the reversed-grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint Race.

Oliver Rowland and Artem Markelov rounded up the top ten; Markelov originally started on the front row alongside Gasly but dropped back at the start following contact with the Frenchman.

2016 GP2 Series Italy – Feature Race Results (30 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Antonio Giovinazzi it PREMA Racing 30 52:28.474
2. Raffaele Marciello it RUSSIAN TIME 30 + 1.457
3. Gustav Malja se Rapax 30 + 1.988
4. Pierre Gasly fr PREMA Racing 30 + 2.294
5. Norman Nato fr Racing Engineering 30 + 2.809
6. Luca Ghiotto it Trident 30 + 2.823
7. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 30 + 3.896
8. Mitch Evans nz Pertamina Campos Racing 30 + 6.311
9. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 30 + 7.898
10. Artem Markelov ru RUSSIAN TIME 30 + 9.416
11. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 30 + 10.277
12. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 30 + 11.013
13. Nabil Jeffri my Arden International 30 + 17.807
14. Sergey Sirotkin ru ART Grand Prix 30 + 18.524
15. Jimmy Eriksson* se Arden International 30 + 18.109
16. Nicholas Latifi ca DAMS 30 + 22.201
17. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 30 + 22.555
18. Marvin Kirchhöfer de Carlin 30 + 22.833
19. Philo Paz Armand id Trident 30 + 23.482
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps
DQ. Sean Gelael* id Pertamina Campos Racing 29 1 lap behind
DNF. Sergio Canamasas es Carlin 15 Collision
DNF. Arthur Pic* fr Rapax 15 Collision

*Post-Race Penalties:

  • Jimmy Eriksson – who was originally classified in 13th place – was awarded a five-second post-race time penalty for forcing Marvin Kirchhöfer off the circuit.
  • Sean Gelael was was awarded a 10 second stop and go penalty for failing to slow for double yellow flags after setting his fastest sector times during the Safety Car period. After failing to serve the penalty within the required number of laps after it being issued, he was shown the black flag and disqualified.
  • Arthur Pic was awarded a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Sprint Race for causing an avoidable collision with Sergio Canamasas.

Image via GP2 Series Media

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8