Valencia Street Circuit
Grosjean back to the top in feature race
Frenchman picks up victory after van der Garde penalty
Romain Grosjean has claimed his second win of the season after a strong drive, and a drive through for title rival Giedo van der Garde put the Frenchman on top in this afternoon's eventful feature race in Valencia, sharing the podium with the Dutchman and Davide Valsecchi.
There was bad news from the start for local team Addax when polesitter Charles Pic stopped on the way to the grid: he was unable to get restarted on his own and had to be helped back to the pits, undoing all of his good work from yesterday but handing teammate van der Garde a free pass when the lights went out, controlling the grid from the front ahead of Grosjean, a fast starting Dani Clos, Luca Filippi and Esteban Gutierrez.
Behind them Jules Bianchi and Marcus Ericsson took each other out of the running at the first turn, with Alvaro Parente spinning back into Fabio Leimer and Stefano Coletti failing to get away from the grid at all: the inevitable safety car was out for just 2 laps before the race restarted without incident, as van der Garde made a strong getaway and set a series of fastest laps, with his rivals seemingly unable to do anything about the pace of the Addax car.
A mistake at turn 4 dropped Gutierrez behind Valsecchi and his pursuers, prompting the Mexican to change tactics and make an early stop for fresh tyres. As the stops cycled through the leading pair held station but Clos dropped back behind Filippi, who was baulked at the bridge by a backmarker: the Spaniard took his chance and sliced inside his rival, who tried in vain to repay the compliment 2 corners later but just caught Clos' rear wheel and slid into retirement instead.
Van der Garde looked to have the race in his pocket until the message board relayed more bad news to his team: the Dutchman was given a drive through penalty for ignoring yellow flags, and as he crawled through the pitlane Grosjean, Valsecchi (who had taken advantage of a sharp stop to move up to P3) and Clos stormed past.
With 8 laps to go van der Garde did what he could do: he picked off Clos on lap 24 and pushed Valsecchi into running too deep at the hairpin with 2 to go, by which time Grosjean was too far up the road to catch: the Frenchman claimed an easy win ahead of van der Garde, with Valsecchi delighted to take a podium from 8th on the grid.
Clos was the next man across the line, with Sam Bird and Luiz Razia following him nose to tail after a race long squabble between the pair. Gutierrez made a solid recovery drive to pick up 7th place at the flag, just ahead of Josef Kral (who picked up the reverse pole on the penultimate lap): Grosjean continues to lead the championship by 34 points to van der Garde's 29, with more to play for in tomorrow morning's sprint race.
By: GP2 Series