Charles Pic took advantage of a fast pitstop to leapfrog from third to first in this afternoon's feature race in Barcelona, holding off a strong challenge in the second half of the race from teammate Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird to hang on for his first victory of the season.
Van der Garde and Bird held station at the front of the grid when the lights went out, with Pic and Romain Grosjean sliding in behind the pair as they charged through turn one, but behind them a fierce battle between Jules Bianchi and Luiz Razia saw the innocent Luca Filippi pushed into the wall on the front straight, destroying his car and drawing out the safety car as the Brazilian limped back to the pits for a new front wing.
The restart came four laps later with Dani Clos frantically waving for Marcus Ericsson to pass (the Spaniard accidentally overtook him under yellow), leaving a big gap for the front four to run and hide as Stefano Coletti and Davide Valsecchi couldn't find a way to take advantage behind the Spaniard.
With tire wear at a premium the race was always going to be about rubber and pitstops, and so it proved. At the front of the field Bird and Clos were the first to come in, on lap 16, with Pic and Coletti following them in next time by. Van der Garde, Grosjean and Ericsson had to come in one lap later, just to cover, but the Dutchman's gamble didn't pay off: he was greeted on his return to the track by the sight of his teammate's rear wing, and it all looked to be over.
Three laps later, though, there was another safety car period, this time for a squabble between Esteban Gutierrez and Michael Herck which saw both men sitting by the side of the track wondering what they could have done better, and the Frenchman soon had the rest of the field breathing down his neck.
Pic was up to the task, however, and a solid restart gave him the momentum to hold on for the remainder of the race to lead home teammate van der Garde by 1.4 seconds, with Bird crossing the line just behind the pair. Grosjean was next across the line in fourth, a quiet race and some points his reward, with Valsecchi winning the pitstop battle to claim fifth place ahead of Ericsson and Clos, with Bianchi making a strong recovery drive for eighth and tomorrow's pole position after jumping Coletti in the closing laps.
Barcelona – Feature race Driver Team 1. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 2. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 3. Sam Bird iSport International 4. Romain Grosjean Dams 5. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 6. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 7. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 8. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 9. Fabio Leimer Rapax 10. Josef Kral Arden International 11. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 12. Alvaro Parente Racing Engineering 13. Max Chilton Carlin 14. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 15. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 16. Pal Varhaug Dams 17. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 18. Julian Leal Rapax 19. Kevin Ceccon Scuderia Coloni 20. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 21. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology
Not Classified Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART Luiz Razia Team AirAsia Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing
Fastest Lap : Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Adda Team) – 1 :33.959 on lap 6
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