• GP2 Asia - Abu Dhabi

Bianchi holds off Grosjean in chaotic feature race

ESPNF1 Staff
February 11, 2011
Jules Bianchi leads Romain Grosjean in to the first corner as Luiz Razia and Dani Clos collide on the grid © GP2 Series
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Jules Bianchi won the first race of the GP2 Asia season after an intense battle with Romain Grosjean from lights to flag in Abu Dhabi.

The race got off to a chaotic start when Dani Clos stalled on the grid and was rammed by Luiz Razia, who flew upside down into the crash barrier. The accident looked severe and accounted for two other retirements, but both Clos and Razia limped away and back to the safety of the pit lane without too much assistance.

The accident brought out the safety car, but the waved yellow flags did not have the desired effect and Rodolfo Gonzalez launched his car over the rear of Charles Pic as the front runners slowed on the back straight. With accidents to be cleared on both sides of the circuit the decision was quickly made to red flag the race.

While the destruction ensued behind him, Bianchi slipped past Grosjean into the first corner and therefore had the lead at the restart. In the Lotus sponsored ART, the Ferrari reserve driver kept the Renault reserve driver at bay, even though Grosjean tried every trick in the book to find a way past. The Yas Marina Circuit - albeit a shortened version of the grand prix layout - lived up to its reputation for processional racing, and Bianchi just had to avoid mistakes to keep the lead. He finished comfortably ahead of Grosjean as the DAMS driver backed off, with Davide Valsecchi in third.

The only overtaking moves of note came from the two iSport drivers. Sam Bird moved up from his lowly grid position early in the race - he eventually finished sevneth - and Marcus Ericsson slipped past Giedo van der Garde for fourth place on the last lap.

Max Chilton attempted a move on Stefano Coletti on the final lap, but had to cut the corner to get past and will likely have his eighth place stripped as a result. If that is the case, Coletti will start from pole for Saturday's sprint race, with Bird alongside.

By most accounts the new GP2 chassis and Pirelli tyres held up well.

Provisional top eight finishers

Driver Car
1. Jules Bianchi ART
2. Romain Grosjean DAMS
3. Davide Valsecchi AirAsia
4. Marcus Ericsson iSport
5. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax
6. Josef Kral Arden
7. Sam Bird iSport
8. Max Chilton Coloni