• GP2, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race 1

Leimer takes GP2 title as Bird stalls and Rossi wins

ESPN Staff
November 2, 2013
The moment it all went wrong ... Sam Bird's car is wheeled away from the grid © Sutton Images

Fabio Leimer clinched the GP2 drivers' championship in a dramatic feature race in Abu Dhabi, won by Alexander Rossi, after title rival Sam Bird stalled on the grid.

Bird's hopes of securing the title didn't make it past the start line as his Russian Time car inched forwards and then cut out as he tried to pull away from second on the grid. Leimer was directly behind him, starting from fourth, and had to take avoiding action as he swerved past his championship rival and then cruised to fourth place in the race, giving him an insurmountable 18 point lead ahead of Sunday's sprint race. Bird attempted a brave fight back and hauled his car up to 10th with the help of two safety car periods, but it wasn't enough to keep his title hopes alive.

Meanwhile, Rossi and Jolyon Palmer fought it out for victory, with Palmer taking the lead at the start but Rossi regaining the top spot during the pit stops. Both drivers went for a long first stint but Rossi pitted two laps earlier than Palmer on lap 18 and emerged ahead on medium tyres compared to Palmer's super-softs. Palmer looked like he had the pace to pass using the softer compound but a safety car period caused by Mitch Evans clashing with Sergio Canamasas on lap 23 significantly restricted his window of opportunity. The race hit its time limit before Rossi could complete the full 30 laps, seeing him win from Palmer with Marcus Ericsson third on the podium.

The late safety car was the second of the afternoon after Tom Dillmann and Jon Lancaster had a nasty shunt on the first lap in which the front wing of Lancaster's car ended up on top of Dillmann's head. Dillmann spun and was facing the traffic as Lancaster's Hilmer Motorsport car mounted the front of his Russian Time.

Behind Leimer in fourth, Dani Clos finished fifth ahead of James Calado, Felipe Nasr and Jonny Cecotto, who will start Sunday's sprint race from reverse grid pole position. Daniel Abt managed to hold off Bird for ninth place despite a spirited attempt by the championship challenger to claw back another point.

Palmer took the fastest lap on his super-soft tyres, and with it a single bonus point.

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