• GP2 - Abu Dhabi GP - Race One

Vandoorne seals dominant win

ESPN Staff
November 22, 2014
© Sutton Images

McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne moved into second in the GP2 drivers' championship with a dominant victory in the Abu Dhabi feature race.

Championship standings

  • Jolyon Palmer (champion) 276
  • Stoffel Vandoorne 221
  • Felipe Nasr 212
  • Mitch Evans 166
  • Johnny Cecotto Jr 136

Vandoorne led away from pole and then executed his pit strategy perfectly, coming in early and then charging his way through the field to make up for lost ground. In the closing laps champion-elect Jolyon Palmer and Mitch Evans, both on a different strategy having pitted later, were chipping away at Vandoorne's lead but the Belgian's victory did not look in doubt.

It was the fourth victory of an impressive rookie season for Vandoorne which will have given McLaren food for thought as it continues to delay on announcing its 2015 driver line-up. It also sees him jump above Felipe Nasr into second with just Sunday's sprint race left to run.

And it was Nasr who put Vandoorne under immediate pressure as the lights went out as he jumped from fifth to second on the first lap, but the 22-year-old held firm. Further back a scrap between Jon Lancaster Rene Binder and Marco Sorenson forced the latter pair out of the race and prompted a safety car.

Vandoorne, who started on the super soft compound, managed the restart perfectly and pitted as soon as the pit window opened on lap 6, as did Nasr. There were split strategies across the field and Vandoorne emerged ninth, but quickly passed Artem Markelov and then Lancaster on a circuit known for limited overtaking opportunities.

Lancaster then lost part of his wing with a clumsy attempt to re-pass Vandoorne, an incident which had no impact on the Belgian's race. Attention turned to the fortunes of Palmer and Evans, both out in front having started on the medium tyre, and whether they could build a big enough gap to Vandoorne.

There was drama at the stops as the pair very nearly touched as Palmer exited his pit box marginally ahead, before the championship leader nearly slid into the wall of the exit. Both emerged some six seconds down on Vandoorne but had the benefit of the super soft tyre.

Both were chipping away at his lead but nowhere near enough to have a significant impact on the race as Vandoorne rounded off a comfortable victory. Felipe Nasr finished fourth, ahead of Stephane Richelmi and Johnny Cecotto Jr.

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