Gasly Takes Advantage in Title Race
Pierre Gasly is now extremely close to becoming the 12th GP2 champion after his victory in the Abu Dhabi feature race.
The Prema Racing driver dominated from pole to take the win, having a consistently fast pace, while his championship rival Antonio Giovinazzi took damage limitation to finish sixth, being promoted to fifth in the final results.
Racing Engineering’s Norman Nato had a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane after crossing the line in fifth, finishing just 1.5 seconds ahead of the Italian.
He got away well from the front of the grid and immediately established an advantage, going 2.5 seconds clear of then-second-place driver Sergey Sirotkin on the third lap, lapping 1.2 seconds faster than the Russian on that lap.
Gasly was also undoubtedly helped by the period of time before the pit stop where other drivers struggled on their old super-soft Pirelli tires before pitting for a set of mediums. Lap times fell by about two or three seconds, while Nobuharu Matsushita quickly passed his teammate after starting on the mediums. The Japanese driver was quickly 2.4 seconds ahead of Sirotkin, which highlights the tire issues.
Although Gasly’s times fell, he still had an advantage, before losing a slight amount of time having to be held in his pit box after pitting on the seventh lap before going back out on the track. For the next 24 laps, he superbly carved through the cars in front who were yet to pit like a Thanksgiving turkey and retake his lead with around five laps to go.
Giovinazzi did not have the same pace as his teammate. Gasly set a few fastest laps throughout the race, but the Italian didn’t set anything too sensational, only really improving in the final ten laps.
Before the race, Giovinazzi had a three-point lead over Gasly, but the Italian is now 12 points behind the French driver. Gasly now has a total of 219 points, with Giovinazzi on 207 points.
REVERSE GRID DRAMA?
The unique thing about the GP2 Series compared to other series is the reverse grid formula, turning the top eight around on the grid at the start of the final sprint race.
Giovinazzi starts in fourth, while Gasly starts eighth. Gasly will need to pass cars around him, such as ART’s Nobuharu Matsushita and Russian Time’s Artem Markelov (starting seventh and sixth) to find a comfortable place on track for enough points to keep his championship lead. The Italian has an easier position.
There are many possible results to decide the destination of the title.
Giovinazzi needs a points swing of 12 points to fight back, with a better countback record of five wins instead of his teammate’s four. Because he has more wins, if the two are level on points, the Italian will get the title.
– Giovinazzi has to win without the fastest lap (15 points) and have Gasly finish in seventh or lower (two points).
– The Italian could win with the fastest lap (15 + two points) and have his teammate finish in sixth or lower (four points).
– He needs to come second with the fastest lap (12 + two points) and Gasly finishing in seventh or lower (two points).
– Giovinazzi could finish second without the fastest lap (12 points) and have Gasly finish outside of the points in ninth or lower.
– He could also finish third with the fastest lap (10 + two points) with Gasly outside the points positions in ninth or worse.
Any other result sees Gasly walk away from Abu Dhabi with a trophy in his hand.
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