Charles Pic has claimed victory in his first GP2 race in Barcelona, keeping his head and driving a strong, sensible race as his rivals dropped away to lead home Giacomo Ricci and Dani Clos in today’s season opener.
The Frenchman’s race was set up at the start when polesitter Jules Bianchi and teammate Sam Bird struggled to get off the line as the lights went out. Sergio Perez tore away from the front row with Christian Vietoris pushing for a line inside the Mexican at the first turn: the pair came together out of the corner with the German spinning backwards into Bianchi, putting them both out on the spot and forcing Bird over the high curbs to avoid the melee.
As a result Pic was promoted to P2 behind the rapidly escaping Perez, with Ricci’s astonishing start pushing the Italian up from tenth on the grid to third on the road in a few corners, ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Dani Clos, Oliver Turvey and Diego van der Garde, although the Dutchman was soon to disappear from the proceedings after 2 drive through penalties, one for leaving the pits too late and the other for a jump start.
Up in front Perez was building a strong lead over his rivals as the pitstops shook out: Pic came in on lap 12 and returned 40 seconds down the track from the race leader, who looked to have everything under control, but a sticking right rear tire during his stop four laps later rained on his parade, pushing him back to P4 when he finally returned to the circuit.
And so it was fated to end: Pic drove a strong, intelligent race and held just enough of a lead for the rest of the race to deny a fast charging Ricci, with Clos overtaking Maldonado after his stop to claim a home podium ahead of a bitterly disappointed Perez, who pushed the Spaniard hard for the second half of the race without reward. Oliver Turvey finished fifth in a lonely but fruitful race for the rookie Briton, with Maldonado pushed to the line by teammate Luiz Razia and Fabio Leimer, while Sam Bird drove a race full of qualifying laps after replacing his broken nose on lap one to claim ninth and the final point for fastest lap.
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