Maldonado reigns in Hockenheim
Pastor Maldonado has solidified his lead in the championship with another exhibition drive to claim his third victory of the season ahead of title rival Sergio Perez and Charles Pic, with the win set up by a storming start as the lights went out to lead his rivals all race long.
Polesitter Pic has the best opportunity to slow down the Maldonado locomotive, but a poor getaway handed the Venezuelan the lead with Perez squeezing past Oliver Turvey for second place into turn one. Behind them chaos reigned as Christian Vietoris ran over the right rear of series returnee Romain Grosjean, slowing both drivers, and the battle between Adrian Zaugg and Dani Clos was settled at the back of the circuit in the Spaniard's favor as his rival ran out of road.
One lap later Pic was making up for his poor start with a strong move on Turvey to claim P3, with the Englishman able to hold on ahead of Clos but the positions behind them changing lap by lap in the opening stages as Jules Bianchi clawed his way up from P9 on the grid to pass Marcus Ericsson, Giedo van der Garde, Luiz Razia and Clos before pitting early in hope of more in clear air.
Back at the front Perez was all over Maldonado but just couldn't find a way through as the remainder of the field made their stops: the Mexican had to wait until lap 13 for a clear track in front of him but then came in one lap later only to re-emerge on his rivals rear wing.
Two laps later Sam Bird, who had made his way up to P10 from the rear of the grid, pushed just too hard to get past van der Garde, finding his rivals sidepod instead and spinning the Dutchman around in a move that would see the Englishman penalized with a drive through shortly after. Perez was unable to do anything about his rival on his second set and had to make do with P2 behind Maldonado, coming home almost 4 seconds behind his rival but 9 ahead of Pic, who survived a late race attack from Clos to hold on for third place.
Bianchi showed his pace by setting the fastest lap on his final tour for fifth place with Ericsson following him home, while Zaugg made a late lunge to sneak by Turvey with a few laps to go for seventh: the Briton just held on for tomorrow's pole ahead of Michael Herck and Luca Filippi. Maldonado's win extends his lead in the championship to 24 points over Dani Clos on 42 and Perez on 38, with Bianchi two behind the Frenchman, with van der Garde (27), Pic (23), Bird (22) and Razia (20) just behind: the sprint race will give the Venezuelan's rivals a chance to close the gap in the title race tomorrow morning.
1. Pastor Maldonado Rapax
2. Sergio Perez Barwa Addax Team
3. Charles Pic Arden International
4. Dani Clos Racing Engineering
5. Jules Bianchi ART Grand Prix
6. Marcus Ericsson Super Nova Racing
7. Adrian Zaugg Trident Racing
8. Oliver Turvey iSport International
9. Michael Herck DPR
10. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing
11. Alberto Valerio Scuderia Coloni
12. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team
13. Johnny Cecotto Trident Racing
14. Sam Bird ART Grand Prix
15. Vladimir Arabadzhiev Scuderia Coloni
16. Giacomo Ricci DPR
17. Davide Valsecchi iSport International
18. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden International
19. Max Chilton Ocean Racing Technology
20. Romain Grosjean Dams
21. Fabio Leimer Ocean Racing Technology
Fastest Lap time: Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) – 1:23.527 on lap 37
Ho Pin Tung Dams
Luiz Razia Rapax
Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering