A masterful strategy call from Trident saw Johnny Cecotto Jr win a memorable feature race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Cecotto stayed out of trouble at the start and made the hard tyre last for 26 laps, meaning he was able to pass Jolyon Palmer in the dying stages on the soft tyre and win by 3.4 seconds.
The race started In bizarre circumstances when a late call to abort the start caught out numerous drivers, including pole-sitter Stephane Richelmi, who had to start from the pit lane. Other drivers to stall included Stoffel Vandoorne, who won his debut race in Bahrain. After another formation lap Mitch Evans and Jolyon Palmer vyed for the lead into Turn 1, only for Stefano Coletti to make contact from behind. Evans was forced to pit with a new nose while Coletti limped back with a puncture. Further down the road on lap one Raffaele Marciello collided with the Hilmers of Daniel Aby and Facu Regalia - forcing all three to retire and bringing out the safety car.
Race leader Palmer and Felipe Nasr, who was second, dived into the pits and it seemed as if the battle for victory would be between the two of them, especially after a botched pit stop saw Julian Leal drop out of contention. But Cecotto had made the decision to stay out, and had a lead of 24 seconds over Palmer when he emerged from the pits, before a series of super faster laps - some coming on older rubber than Palmer - saw him stretch the gap to 33 seconds ahead of his own pit stop on lap 27.
Cecotto could have even had company from Tom Dillmann, who was on a similar strategy, but his engine cover came loose on lap 19, relegating him to ninth at the flag. Further back Rio Haryanto and Alexander Rossi looked well placed for a possible podium challenge, but the latter retired with an engine failure. Out in front it soon became clear that Trident had pulled a master stroke with Cecotto, though he emerged from his pit stop just behind Palmer on lap 27. After initially seeing off the challenge of Nasr on his out lap, Cecotto's soft tyre meant he made short work of Palmer, cutting four seconds off his lead in one lap before passing him.
That then dropped Palmer to second and he suddenly was fending off the charging Nasr behind him. He just kept the Brazilian behind as they crossed nose to tail, with Julian Leal not far behind in fourth. Harayanto finished fifth, ahead of Arthur Pic, Rene Binder and Tio Ellinas, who marked his GP2 debut by claiming pole for Sunday's sprint race. Second is enough to keep Palmer top of the championship, 14 points clear of Leal, followed by Nasr, Cecotto and Vandoorne, whose early stall meant he could only manage to finish 15th.