Jolyon Palmer did not make his life easy today at Marina Bay: a slow start from pole position meant he had to fight his way back to the lead, and fight he did! Thanks to a string of fastest laps, the Carlin driver reduced an over 25s gap after the mandatory pitstop to teammate and then race leader Felipe Nasr. Palmer eventually crossed the finish line 12 seconds ahead of Nasr. James Calado finished third.
When the lights went off, it was Nasr who had the better start from P2 and was leading the rest of the pack into turn 1. Behind the Brazilian, poleman Palmer had a slow getaway and saw both Fabio Leimer and Stephane Richelmi get passed him, the Monegasque driver trying to overtake the Swiss around the outside, but Leimer was able to keep second place into turn 1. Richelmi then lost a position to both Palmer and Calado.
Whilst Nasr tried to build a gap, going fastest on track, his teammate was closing in on Leimer and made quick work of the Swiss who then had to defend his position to Calado, but the ART man also found a way past the Racing Engineering ace for third. All eyes turned to the front of the race with Nasr and Palmer on the same tire compounds (Soft) and having a similar and strong pace. The Brazilian was the first of the duo to come back into the pits from the lead and opted to change only the two rears tires which made for a quicker stop.
At the front, Palmer was enjoying a 22.4s lead over then second placed Tom Dillmann. The Briton pitted three laps after his teammate on whom he had a 25s gap, but when he re-joined the circuit, Nasr was ahead of him, with Dillmann splitting the pair. Once the Frenchman pitted, the Carlin duo were 12.8s apart with Calado in third. That’s when Palmer insolently put a string of fastest laps reducing Nasr’s lead to nothing in a matter of eight laps. The Brazilian, feeling the pressure and struggling on tire degradation, was seen locking up pretty hard a couple of times and it was clear at that point and with four laps to go that it would be mission impossible for him to keep his teammate at bay. Palmer eventually made a move, the two running side by side and Palmer getting the better line to overtake Nasr for the lead and easily pulled away.
Behind them, Calado and Leimer fought for third place, but the Series leader was also struggling with tire degradation. On the final lap, Richelmi caught up with the battling pair and overtook Leimer for fourth place. At the checkered flag, it was all smiles and congratulatory hugs on the Carlin pitwall whilst Calado added another podium finish to his tally ahead of Richelmi, Leimer, Dillmann, and Marcus Ericsson. Sam Bird who recovered from a poor start from P10 and a problem at the pitstop finished eighth and will start from reverse pole tomorrow. Jon Lancaster and Dani Clos completed the top 10.
Leimer is still leading Bird by 169 points to 157, whilst Nasr moves up to third on 148 points, ahead of Coletti and Calado on 135 and 134 points respectively. RUSSIAN TIME are still leading the way in the teams’ standings on 249 points but Carlin are now second on 247 and Racing Engineering are third on 231 points ahead of tomorrow’s sprint race.
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