Bahrain GP2: Vandoorne sweeps to another dominant victory

Stoffel Vandoorne scored a majestic sixth GP2 Series victory of the season in Bahrain, but the battle behind him raged from start to finish in a race that hinged on pitstop timing and tyre degradation.

Vandoorne won by 13s over teammate Nobuharu Matsushita to seal the teams’ title for ART Grand Prix, with Mitch Evans third for Russian Time.

Story of the race

Poleman Pierre Gasly was slow away in his DAMS car, so Vandoorne led comfortably into Turn 1 ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Norman Nato, Alex Lynn, Matsushita and Arthur Pic.

Second in points, Alexander Rossi compounded his poor qualifying by losing more positions in the opening corners, but passed Rio Haryanto for 10th with a great move at Turn 10, and continued to work his way forwards from there.

At the sharp end, Marciello DRS-ed past Gasly for second at Turn 1 on lap four, as Matsushita did likewise on Lynn, who seemed to struggle for straightline speed.

Gasly re-attacked Marciello on the following tour, getting alongside at Turn 1 and Turn 4, but unable to retake the position.

Lynn was falling backwards, Rossi passing him for eighth on lap seven.

Gasly suffered a moment through the opening corners on lap eight, and lost two places to Nato and Matsushita.

Vandoorne was well up the road by this point, and led by 1.8s on lap 10 as Marciello was defending second from Nato, who in turn was being attacked by Matsushita.

Matsushita passed Nato at half distance, Nato just fending off Gasly but having to cede third place at the start of lap 22.

After a poor qualifying, Sergey Sirotkin charged from row seven to run in the top 10 by lap 12. But a big lock-up into Turn 1 on lap 17 undid much of his earlier good work, and he fell behind Haryanto, King - who had made a poor start from fifth - and Lynn.

Sirotkin was forced to pit, and change to the soft tyre, which allowed him to charge forwards again.

Pit strategy changes race’s complexion

Vandoorne extended his lead to over 13s – having lapped two seconds per lap faster than most of his rivals as the race entered its second half – before taking his mandatory pitstop to switch to the soft on lap 22.

Rossi pitted early and was lapping three seconds quicker than even Vandoorne, something which catapulted him ahead of Matsushita, and on course for a podium finish.

Gasly regained his position over Nato in the pitstops, but they rejoined in the thick of the early pitters. Nato repassed Gasly with seven laps to go, but Gasly got him back before Nato was hamstrung by a right-rear puncture.

Nathaneal Berthon was on the alternate soft-medium strategy and rose as high as second before those on fresh softs mugged him, and he plummeted.

Both Evans, who had timed his pitstop to perfection, and Rossi passed him at Turn 1 on lap 25, but Rossi then ploughed into the back of Evans at Turn 4, removing his front wing and forcing him to pit again.

That promoted Matsushita to third, ahead of Sirotkin, Marciello, Haryanto and Gasly.

Matsushita DRS-ed Evans for second with two laps to go, as Marciello got the better of Sirotkin behind them, with Gasly and Haryanto next up.

Lynn and King battled for reverse-grid pole in the closing laps, with Lynn holding on for tomorrow’s top spot.

Rossi finished 18th after his extra pitstop.

Pos  Driver  Team  Time/Gap 
S.Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 57'15.184 
N.Matsushita ART Grand Prix 13.526
Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 17.617
R.Marciello Trident 20.494
Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 21.924
Pierre Gasly DAMS 22.622
Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 26.972
Alex Lynn DAMS 30.590
Jordan King Racing Engineering 31.312
10  Arthur Pic Campos Racing 41.514
11  N.Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus 43.621
12  Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus 45.597
13  M.Stockinger Status Grand Prix 47.319
14  Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport 49.854
15  Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 56.728
16  Gustav Malja Rapax 57.380
17  Andre Negrao Arden International 59.439
18  Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 59.845
19  Daniel de Jong Trident 1'00.613
20  Rene Binder MP Motorsport 1'00.700
21  Dean Stoneman Carlin 1'08.684
22  Oliver Rowland Status Grand Prix 1'11.829
23  Sean Gelael Carlin  
24  Norman Nato Arden International
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About this article
Series FIA F2
Event Bahrain II
Track Bahrain International Circuit
Drivers Stoffel Vandoorne
Teams ART Grand Prix
Article type Race report