Vietoris sprints to victory, Maldonado champion
Christian Vietoris has taken his first main series win with a storming start which caught his rivals napping, and a controlled drive thereafter under extreme pressure, to greet the checkered flag ahead of Jerome d'Ambrosio and Sam Bird, while Pastor Maldonado failed to finish but nevertheless claimed the 2010 GP2 driver's championship.
The victory was set up as the lights went out: with the front row starters very slow to get away, Vietoris made a flyer and threaded the needle to lead the field into the first turn before tearing away into the distance. Adrian Zaugg also made a good getaway but was unable to find a way through, dropping back as d'Ambrosio went wide around everyone to slot into second behind the German.
Further back and the championship looked to be over when Sergio Perez braked heavily and ran wide and through the gravel at the Parabolica, with Pastor Maldonado two cars back seemingly following in his rival's tracks: the Mexican held on to narrowly miss the wall and find his way back onto circuit, but the Venezuelan was less lucky and found the wall for the third time in the weekend.
Bird was looking to cap off his best weekend of the season in style: a sharp getaway had him up to fourth on the road from eighth on the grid, and he quickly dispatched poleman Max Chilton at the first chicane next time through for a podium spot: his teammate Jules Bianchi found his way by Chilton two laps later, but he didn't seem to have the pace of his teammate in race conditions here, dropping time while Bird ran a string of fastest laps to catch up to the leading pair.
The Englishman soon caught up to d'Ambrosio, but the nature of the fast flowing circuit meant there was little chance of a pass unless someone made a mistake. With the top three running nose to tail for the remainder of the race Vietoris held on for the win one second ahead of d'Ambrosio, who took second by just one tenth from Bird. Bianchi solidified third in the championship with another points finish for fourth, with Chilton hanging on for fifth against race long pressure from Oliver Turvey.
But with Perez unable to improve on 13th position the championship finally belonged to Maldonado, who celebrated with his team in the pits as the checkered flag dropped for his rivals: the Venezuelan takes his place in history alongside Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Giorgio Pantano and Nico Hülkenberg as the newest GP2 champion.