Schilke, GP2 correspondent
Davide Valsecchi dominated the GP2 Series Feature Race in Sakhir, Bahrain by making a perfect start when the lights went out, and then controlling the pace while setting the fastest lap. The Italian took the checkered flag nearly eight seconds in front of Luiz Razia. The battle at the end was for the final podium step; Esteban Gutierrez did a great steal on the last lap.
With his brilliant start in his DAMS single-seater, Valsecchi again proved that he is a definite contender for the 2012 crown. However, his rivals will look to ensure he does not do one of those rare triples on Sunday, and they have a bit of luck on their side as the Italian starts eighth.
"I had a good start and we could stay in front of everyone at the first corner," explained Valsecchi. "It was a good way to start the race. We were really fast. My car was perfect. I drove really well. Yesterday we deserved the pole. Today we deserved the win. I’m really happy about the start because it’s always a bit of an issue for me and we managed to stay in front today at the first corner. It was not a fantastic one because Gutierrez was next to me, but it was enough to keep the lead."
Arden’s Razia scored second today as he also had a great start and moved from eighth on the grid to fifth, which put him in good standing to take second after the pitstops and a late race safety car brought out by Johnny Cecotto and Felipe Nasr. After the restart Valsecchi pulled away from James Calado, who had Razia all over his gearbox. Calado pushed too hard on his tires and was quickly overtaken by Razia for second. Calado would go on this finish fifth while Razia pressured Valsecchi to up his pace.
"We saw that when you start P1 you can control the race," said Razia. "I think Valsecchi did that very well. I did that in Malaysia and could save my tyres and push whenever I needed to. Valsecchi did the same today. When I was P2 he did the fastest lap. I tried and I could not and I saved my tyres to finish P2 which is a great result."
Gutierrez lost second with a costly delay during his stop and found himself behind Chilton in fifth. The Lotus GP driver made every move he could to get by Chilton but the Carlin driver fought to keep Gutierrez off the podium. On the final lap, Gutierrez made a move that no doubt even surprised Chilton to take third.
"It was a difficult race, it was really challenging especially with the tyre management," admitted Gutierrez. "We lost a lot of time in the pitstop. I think without this problem for sure we could have been second at least. Of course we need to work a lot because P1 seems to be quite challenging especially on the track and on this event. But it’s a good experience. In the end we have to be happy because we recovered really well and we scored important points. The season is still long. We will be focusing on improving different aspects and try to see the best way to go forward."
Behind Chilton and Calado came Tom Dillmann in sixth, Fabio Leimer seventh and Fabio Oinidi in eighth. The Fabio’s' will head tomorrow's sprint race grid with Oinidi on pole and Leimer alongside. The Scuderia Coloni driver will be strong and if no one can make their way past in the opening laps Oinidi could be destined for his maiden GP2 Series win tomorrow. The sprint race won’t be as much fun for Nasr, as the DAMS driver was found to be responsible for bringing out the safety car.