Abu Dhabi GP2: Gasly crowned champion as Lynn wins final race

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Abu Dhabi GP2: Gasly crowned champion as Lynn wins final race
Valentin Khorounzhiy
By: Valentin Khorounzhiy
Nov 27, 2016, 11:10 AM

Red Bull protege Pierre Gasly became the 2016 GP2 Series champion with a straightforward drive to ninth in the final race of the season, won by DAMS driver Alex Lynn.

Pierre Gasly, PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly, PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn, DAMS
Alex Lynn, DAMS
Johnny Cecotto Jr., Rapax
Johnny Cecotto Jr., Rapax
Antonio Giovinazzi, PREMA Racing
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix

Heading into Abu Dhabi, Gasly had trailed fellow Prema driver Antonio Giovinazzi by seven points - yet by qualifying on pole and dominating the feature race, the Frenchman not only made up the difference, but pulled out a 12-point gap over his teammate ahead of the Sunday sprint.

Giovinazzi, having finished fifth on Saturday, lined up fourth on the reversed grid for the decider, with Gasly four spots behind.

Off the line, poleman Lynn got an average getaway, but the Brit quickly moved across fellow front row starter Johnny Cecotto, allowing himself to keep the lead and assisting both Norman Nato and Sergey Sirotkin in passing the Venezuelan.

Giovinazzi, meanwhile, had got massive rear wheelspin in his start, but held fifth out of Turn 1, before a look down the inside of Cecotto into Turn 2 allowed Nobuharu Matsushita to sneak by round the outside, dropping the Italian to sixth.

At that point, Giovinazzi now had title rival Gasly behind him – and, although the Frenchman was then passed by Artem Markelov, he now looked a lock for the championship barring major dramas.

As the opening lap concluded, Lynn had Sirotkin as his nearest rival, the Russian overtaking Nato, who then dropped behind Cecotto as well.

There were no further changes in the points-scoring top eight over the first third of the race, with the top three running in formation up ahead and Nato unable to keep pace, a train of cars soon forming behind the Racing Engineering driver – with both title contenders mired in that group.

On lap 10, Matsushita passed Nato and immediately escaped into the distance, but Giovinazzi – who needed to finish third to have any chance of overhauling Gasly – could not follow the Japanese driver through.

Instead, after a few unsuccessful attempts to pass Nato, Giovinazzi dropped out of DRS range and came under pressure from Markelov, who went for a late move down the inside of Turn 11 and briefly edged ahead.

The Italian, however, stuck to his line and kept position, with Markelov forced to go off-track to avoid contact. Two laps later, further pressure from Markelov - this time at Turn 7 - saw Giovinazzi lock up and miss the corner completely, although he kept position.

The Italian would finish sixth, right ahead of Markelov, with Gasly surrendering eighth and the final point to Mitch Evans on the final lap.

But even losing the point, Gasly still finished eight clear of Giovinazzi in the title battle.

Out front, Lynn had controlled the race, breaking out of Sirotkin's DRS range early on and cruising to his fifth victory in his two seasons in GP2.

Sirotkin ran out of tyre life at the end and had to do with third, giving up runner-up to Cecotto on the final lap, with Matsushita and Nato making up the top five.

Race results

 

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