Maldonado powers to fifth GP2 win Pastor Maldonado has extended his series lead with yet another crushing display to take his fifth victory of the season, claiming the lead following a string of start problems for his rivals to easily lead home Christian Vietoris and Sergio Perez in this afternoon's feature race in Budapest.
The Venezuelan's job was made easy by the removal of the front row before the start, with Davide Valsecchi stalling off the line for the formation lap, Adrian Zaugg causing another tour when he stalled, and then finally polesitter Sam Bird's engine stopped ahead of the third attempt at a start. When the lights went out Oliver Turvey bogged down, handing Maldonado an easy lead ahead of Vietoris, Perez, Giedo van der Garde and Turvey, but behind then was chaos as Jules Bianchi caught Giacomo Ricci's rear and spun back into the traffic. Ho-Pin Tung had nowhere to go and they hit nose to nose, with Rodolfo Gonzalez into the back of them.
The red flag was out almost immediately. There was no drama at the safety car restart, nor when it came in a lap later, and it was clear that pit strategies would be the telling factor: Jerome d'Ambrosio came in early from P8 to get some clear air, as did Perez from P3, giving Maldonado the peace to pit at his leisure, losing the lead only to some stragglers for 2 laps until everyone had come in. With the gap out to 10 seconds the only chance his rivals had was another safety car, which duly arrived on lap 24 Alberto Valerio's battle with Luiz Razia spilled over into a brawl, hurling the Brazilian over his rival's tires and into the wall.
Vladimir Arabadzhiev was out of position between Maldonado and Vietoris at the restart, and held up the field for long enough to give the series leader an easy run to the first turn. And when the checkered flag Maldonado was almost six seconds to the good over Vietoris, who had to hold a clearly desperate Perez at bay for his best result of the season, while Turvey snuck into fourth just before the second safety car when van der Garde ran wide. D'Ambrosio held on for sixth place, leading a train of DPR drivers Michael Herck and Giacomo Ricci, with the latter just holding off countryman Valsecchi for tomorrow's pole position.
The Venezuelan's lead in the series is now out to 26 points: Maldonado leads Perez by 77 points to 51, with Dani Clos on 43 and Bianchi on 39. Perez would seem to be the only man able to close down the series leader points score in tomorrow's sprint race.
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