Alexander Rossi scores first GP2 win as Fabio Leimer clinches title

Alexander Rossi scores first GP2 win as Fabio Leimer clinches title

Formula 2

Alexander Rossi scores first GP2 win as Fabio Leimer clinches title

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Fabio Leimer secured the GP2 Series title in the Abu Dhabi feature race, as main rival Sam Bird stalled at the start and America’s Alexander Rossi (ABOVE) took victory.

Rossi’s win, his first GP2 success with the Caterham team, came after opting for a medium/medium tire strategy that thwarted long-time race leader Jolyon Palmer and his Carlin team. They chose a medium/super-soft strategy, and Rossi’s two-lap undercut was enough to propel him in front as Palmer rejoined from the pits.

Rossi won by 2.1 seconds despite a late safety car to retrieve Mitch Evans’s stranded car, as Palmer ran the last nine laps on the more fragile tire and could not take the fight to him at the finish.

“It’s amazing! It was very emotional on the podium, but we did such a good job this weekend to get this,” Rossi declared about his first series victory. “Jolyon and Carlin were really strong; their ability to look after tires was a little bit better than us today as mine went off three or four laps before his, so we had to make a call. We had to think about where we look for another podium tomorrow or go for glory today, and that’s what we did.

“The safety car didn’t help us, to be honest, because it gave him a chance to cool off his tires, which we needed, and I thought it was going to be a bit of a fight, but we made a good restart and then held him off. I am very, very relieved that we got it done, and as I said yesterday we can go to the off-season now knowing that we can do it.”

Marcus Ericsson passed Leimer for third with three laps to go at Turn 11, but fourth was enough to crown Leimer as champion.

Chief rival Bird stalled at the start, and despite stopping under an early safety car to switch strategy to get the super-soft tire out of the way, he was unable to rise to the ninth place he required to take the title fight into Sunday, finishing only 10th.

Dani Clos claimed fifth for MP Motorsport, ahead of James Calado, who made a late-race spurt on super-soft tires despite a broken bargeboard that was starving his engine of power.

Felipe Nasr finished seventh, followed by Johnny Cecotto Jr., who will start Sunday’s sprint race from pole.

The early safety car was required for a nasty clash between Jon Lancaster and Tom Dillmann, from which the latter was lucky to escape as Lancaster’s front wing was wedged on his crash helmet.

Results - 29 laps:Pos  Driver              Team/Car                Time/Gap 1. Alexander Rossi      Caterham            1h00m16.414s 2. Jolyon Palmer        Carlin                   +2.130s 3. Marcus Ericsson      DAMS                     +3.075s 4. Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering       +4.687s 5. Dani Clos            MP                       +5.218s 6. James Calado         ART                      +6.370s 7. Felipe Nasr          Carlin                   +8.873s 8. Johnny Cecotto Jr    Arden                   +12.142s 9. Daniel Abt           ART                     +13.102s10. Sam Bird             Russian Time            +13.568s11. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs  Hilmer                  +14.852s12. Sergio Canamasas     Caterham                +15.896s13. Simon Trummer        Rapax                   +15.919s14. Rio Haryanto         Addax                   +19.021s15. Rene Binder          Lazarus                 +19.229s16. Julian Leal          Racing Engineering      +21.039s17. Gianmarco Raimondo   Trident                 +23.308s18. Nathanael Berthon    Trident                   +1 lap*19. Stefano Coletti      Rapax                     +1 lap*20. Daniel de Jong       MP                        +1 lap*21. Jake Rosenzweig      Addax                    +3 laps**Not running at finish                                             Retirements:                                                                           Mitch Evans          Arden                    22 laps    Vittorio Ghirelli    Lazarus                   9 laps    Stephane Richelmi    DAMS                       1 lap    Tom Dillmann         Russian Time              0 laps    Jon Lancaster        Hilmer                    0 laps

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