Nico Hülkenberg wins an exciting Qatar night race ahead of both Barwa International Campos Team men
The ART Grand Prix racer displayed a brilliant performance tonight in the first-ever GP2 Asia night feature race at the Losail International Circuit to claim a maiden GP2 victory. However, things did not start so well for Nico Hülkenberg who lost his pole position advantage to Sergio Perez at the start.
Further behind the grid, Sakon Yamamoto stalled from sixth and was hit hard by Yelmer Buurman. Rodolfo Gonzalez was also caught in the accident, but fortunately, none of them were injured. The Safety Car stayed on track for the next five laps even coming through the pitlane in order to let the marshals clean the debris. Vitaly Petrov, then third, was the first of the top drivers to pit on lap 10 and this strategy allowed him to pass his teammate after the latter rejoined the track from his own mandatory pitstop a few laps later.
Almost all the drivers chose to pit early, but one man stayed on track: Nico Hülkenberg took the lead and managed to preserve his tyres all the while matching the pace of those who had already pitted. He pulled away and extended his lead to over 40 seconds. That was enough time to come into the pits, change his left tyres and rejoin the circuit ahead of Perez who earlier had gone past Petrov in a strong move at the end of Turn 1.
Hülkenberg claimed victory a clear 13 seconds ahead of Perez. With Petrov finishing third, Barwa International Campos Team had a great result which allowed them to close the gap on team leaders Dams. Behind the Top 3, Championship leader Kamui Kobayashi finished fourth although his pace was surprisingly slower than what he normally displays. He regained speed in the latest stages, but could not get close enough to Petrov. His teammate, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, finished fifth having fought long and hard with Davide Valsecchi for that position. The Italian, second in the drivers' championship was followed by Edoardo Mortara and Luiz Razia. Tomorrow's reversed grid will be an all-Arden front row.
Qatar - Race 1 Driver Team 1. Nico Hülkenberg ART Grand Prix 2. Sergio Perez Barwa Int. Campos Team 3. Vitaly Petrov Barwa Int. Campos Team 4. Kamui Kobayashi Dams 5. Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dams 6. Davide Valsecchi Durango 7 Edoardo Mortara Arden Int. Motorsport 8. Luiz Razia Arden Int. Motorsport 9. James Jakes Super Nova Racing 10. Fabrizio Crestani Ocean Racing Technology 11. Diego Nunes Piquet GP 12. Giedo van der Garde GFH Team iSport 13. Javier Villa Super Nova Racing 14. Davide Rigon Trident Racing 15. Michael Herck DPR 16. Marco Bonanomi My Qi-Meritus.Mahara 17. Alvaro Parente My Qi-Meritus.Mahara 18. Kevin Nai Chia Chen Fisichella Motor Sport Int. 19. Frankie Provenzano Trident Racing 20. Michael Dalle Stelle Durango
Fastest lap time: Alvaro Parente (My Qi-Meritus.Mahara): 1:38.699 on lap 21
Not Classified Driver Team Giacomo Ricci DPR Roldan Rodriguez Piquet GP Hamad Al Fardan GFH Team iSport Sakon Yamamoto ART Grand Prix Rodolfo Gonzalez Fisichella Motor Sport Int. Yelmer Buurman Ocean Racing Technology