Coletti Storms To Sprint Victory
Monegasque driver takes maiden win in GP2 Series
Stefano Coletti brought joy to the hearts of the Trident team by putting them back on the top step of the podium for the first time since Monaco 2008 with a stirring and mature drive, controlling his rivals through a late safety car period to claim the win ahead of Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird.
The victory was set up when the lights went out, when Coletti making a storming start to push up two places to second behind poleman Dani Clos, with van der Garde following in his wake to slice by Charles Pic and Luiz Razia by the end of the first lap, while behind them Jules Bianchi was tapped into a spin by Romain Grosjean at the final corner to allow Bird up to sixth place.
The Monegasque driver was soon setting the pace as he targeted the front man, whose teammate Christian Vietoris briefly passed Bird before finding the wall at turn 8 a lap later. It was clear that Coletti was waiting for no man today, and entering the final complex on lap 5 he made his move, putting his car inside Clos' and running side by side for a number of corners before finally claiming the lead for himself.
Meanwhile further back Bird was on a charge, terrorising Razia all over the circuit before going around the outside at the end of the rear straight and powering by the Brazilian. Clos had troubles of his own, falling prey to both Addax teammates in short succession and then having to give way to a hard charging Bird as well on lap 11: the Spaniard had to stop for tyres a few laps later, a clear indication of the problems he was having in the sprint event.
Bird was soon stalking Pic, and lap after lap the pair squabbled for position as Coletti and van der Garde walked away from the fight. With 4 laps remaining all eyes were on the battle, but further back Julian Leal and Davide Rigon just touched on the front straight, setting a chain reaction into play which saw both men with very broken cars and a safety car on track to help deal with the mess.
The race went live with one lap remaining, and Coletti eased away for a superb win ahead of van der Garde when the chequered flag dropped. Behind the pair Bird saw his chance and sliced inside Pic at turn 10, holding on for his second podium in as many days, with Pic ruefully following the Briton across the line for fourth place. Fairuz Fauzy and Josef Kral benefited from an error by Marcus Ericsson at the final corner a lap earlier, while just out of the points almost everyone squabbled over the minor placing on their last tour.
Bird's two podiums takes his total of points to 13, but yesterday's winner Grosjean, who made a comeback today from the last position to P10 pocketed the bonus point for fastest lap. Also on 13 points but with one win, the Dams’ driver is the early Series leader. With today’s win, Coletti stands third on 10 points, the same amount of points than van der Garde. With the championship so tight already, Barcelona promises to offer even more excitement for the fans in just two weeks time.