• GP2, Monaco Grand Prix, Race 1

Johnny Cecotto seals maiden GP2 win

Fraser Masefield
May 25, 2012
Cecotto led from pole to flag for his maiden win © Sutton Images

Johnny Cecotto sealed his first GP2 victory with an assured pole-to-flag drive, holding off Marcus Ericsson, Giedo van der Garde and Davide Valsecchi in a nail-biting finish. Max Chilton was fifth, despite starting on the front row, from Jolyon Palmer, James Calado and Stephane Richelmi.

"I can't describe it! It's just amazing," said Cecotto afterwards. "To win here is a thing that only the top of the top have won, so to win here in Monaco is just amazing! To win in these streets, you have no time, not even a tenth of a second, to think of anything else: almost not even the time to press the button and take a drink, because if you let the steering wheel go it's almost a sure crash!"

Cecotto had never finished on the podium in over two seasons of GP2 racing, but the son of former Formula One driver, also Johnny, drove a flawless race en route to a deserved win. His stunning last lap in the split GP2 qualifying session gave him the pole advantage and he got the start he wanted, leading into the first corner from Ericsson and Van der Garde, who recovered from a stall at the start of the installation lap to jump past Chilton.

Razia maintained his starting position of fifth ahead of Jolyon Palmer with series leader Davide Valsecchi under huge pressure from Esteban Gutierrez. Josef Kral, however, was an early casualty, stopping at turn four.

With the majority of drivers starting on the super soft compound and passing opportunities few and far between, the race was always going to come down to the all-important pit stops.

Chilton was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 20, shortly followed by Ericsson and Van de Garde a lap later. The stops saw Valsecchi briefly inherit the lead but Cecotto's 17.3 second cushion allowed him the comfort zone to come out in second place after his stop and he was back in front after the championship leader's stop.

Ericsson reeled him in and closed the gap to within half a second, making it a nervy last couple of laps but Cecotto held on for a memorable win and the first of the season for Addax.

The result means that Valsecchi still leads the championship with 141 points from Razia on 104. Calado and Van der Garde are tied for third with 75 points apiece going into Saturday's sprint race.