New Zealander on top in feature race
Mitch Evans has claimed his first GP2 win with a strong drive in damp conditions in this afternoon's feature race in Silverstone, recovering from a slow start with a mature performance to secure the victory from championship leader Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne.
In a strategic race Evans and his RT RUSSIAN TIME team out-thought their rivals, picking the right tyres and package to be in the right place at the end, although it didn't start to plan: poleman Raffaele Marciello blasted off the line, with fellow front row starter Palmer doing enough to hold station. Evans made a weaker getaway but caught the Briton quickly, slipping by at turn 3 as Palmer slowed before getting underway again, just holding off a charging Felipe Nasr who mugged Vandoorne for P4, ahead of Stefano Coletti and Johnny Cecotto.
Because of the conditions half the grid started on options and half on primes, with Marciello on the former while Evans and Palmer were on the latter: the gamble on pitstop strategy was set to decide the race, and when a mistake by Evans saw the Briton steal P2 it looked to be the battle of the front row once again.
The Ferrari Academy driver nursed his softer rubber to lap ten, just over a third of the race distance, and looked to be in command as the gap to Palmer after his stop was in his favour as he overtook the last of the prime drivers on the way. Unfortunately for the Italian a mechanical gremlin undid all his good work 4 laps later and he pulled off track, while Evans was biding his time and slowly biting into the lead.
Palmer came in on lap 18, Evans one later with a storming in lap, and when he emerged from the pits his mirrors were full of the yellow DAMS car: Palmer knew he had to make a move stick immediately for the win and threw everything at it, with the pair running side by side through sector 2 before Evans was able to just squeeze his rival slightly at Club to give him track advantage, and then relied on the car to build a gap.
And when the chequered flag dropped Evans had built a gap of nearly 5 seconds to Palmer to secure his debut win, with Vandoorne securing best of the rest 20 seconds further back. Julian Leal mugged Coletti for P5 in the last few corners with an aggressive move, forcing the Monegasque driver to defend from Cecotto and Nasr on the line. Stéphane Richelmi just held off debut driver Marco Sorensen for P8 and tomorrow’s reverse pole, with Daniel Abt hanging on against strong competition for the final point.