The second GP2 Asia race at Qatar was largely decided by the hectic dash to the first corner.
The Arden duo of Luis Razia and Edoardo Mortara locked out the front row courtesy of their seventh and eighth place finishes in the feature race. But they lost time keeping Davide Valsechi behind, pinching the Durango driver between them to the point that catastrophe looked certain, then backing down. But in doing so they handed the initiative to the Campos drivers.
Vitaly Petrov seized the lead from team mate Sergio Perez. But at the end of the first lap Perez passed Petrov, using the outside line at turn one instead of the inside as he had in the feature race.
Once again the pattern of the race was shaped by strange fluctuations in tyre conditions on the dusty Qatar track in cool evening temperatures. Every driver was affected by the sudden drops in performance, but some coped better than others.
Nico Hulkenberg, was one of those who fared rather better though he couldn’t make use of his pace until he’d passed Mortara for third. That done, he set off in pursuit of the Campos duo. But they were a long way up the road and Hulkenberg ran out of time to catch them.
Thus the same three drivers that made it to the podium in the feature race were there in the sprint race as well, albeit in a different order, Perez-Petrov-Hulkenberg. It was Perez’s second consecutive sprint race win.
The trio that provided the excitement at the first corner followed, with Mortara keeping Valsecchi at bay for fourth, and Razia claiming the final point for sixth.
Championship leader Kamui Kobayashi capped an indifferent weekend by finishing out of the points. Had Valsecchi’s audacious bid for the lead at the start of the race paid off the championship table might look a lot closer. But he’s not out of the running yet and nor is the increasingly impressive Hulkenberg who, we must remember, has only started four of this season’s races.
The drivers now face a wait of nearly two months for the next round, supporting the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on April 4-5th.
GP2 Asia drivers’ standings
Kamui Kobayashi 39
Davide Valsecchi 29
Nico Hulkenberg 27
Sergio Perez 25
Roldan Rodriguez 22
Jerome D’Ambrosio 21
Vitaly Petrov 19
Javer Villa 12
Edoardo Mortara 11
Earl Bamber 8
Sakon Yamamoto 7
Giedo van der Garde 7
Chris can der Drift 5
Luis Razia 2
Image (C) GP2 Media Service / Drew Gibson