Tom Dillmann started from reverse pole today. When the lights went off, the Frenchman was busy holding off Adrian Quaife-Hobbs whilst Stefano Coletti charged from P7 on the grid around the outside of Turn 1 to move up to P3. Bird recovered from a slow start from third on the grid, finding a way past Quaife-Hobbs and Coletti on the inside. He immediately put pressure on his teammate for the lead. Further down the pack, contact between Nasr and Alexander Rossi sent the American back to the pits to fix a damaged car. There was more drama with another collision involving Marcus Ericsson and Rio Haryanto.
At the front, Bird overtook Dillmann in the final corner of lap 1. The Frenchman immediately tried to fight back for his position at Turn 1, the two cars running side by side in the following corner. Bird fended off his teammate’s attacks well whilst Dillmann lost a position to Coletti. Nasr was next up and quickly discarded Dillmann too. Bird started to try and build a gap to Coletti that would extend up to 3.8s.
Behind the top three, Quaife-Hobbs, Fabio Leimer and Jolyon Palmer were fighting tooth and nail for fifth place, James Calado and Daniel Abt not too far from the fight. Palmer made a move on Leimer who, trying to defend his position went wide and dropped to eighth, behind Calado. Quaife-Hobbs was then under huge pressure from Palmer, with Calado in tow. The three British drivers battled fearlessly with Calado finding a way past Palmer and Quaife-Hobbs, the MP Motorsport driver also dropping behind the Carlin man. Abt added to Qauife-Hobbs’ misery passing him for seventh place.
In the final laps, Coletti and Nasr picked up the pace, reducing Bird’s advantage to nothing. Struggling on tires, Coletti braked too hard and ran wide in the final corner of the penultimate lap allowing Nasr to get past and to hunt down Bird for the win. The final lap of the race saw an epic battle between the two drivers, Nasr all over Bird and at the checkered flag, Bird crossed the finish line a hairsbreadth ahead of the Carlin man. Coletti brought home another podium finish ahead of Dillmann, Calado, Palmer, Abt and Quaife-Hobbs.
As Leimer scored no points today, Coletti keeps the lead in the drivers’ championship with 64 points, ten points ahead of the Swiss. Nasr is in third with 48 points. Bird moves up to fifth with 33 points. Calado is now sixth with 24 points, 2 points ahead of Palmer.
|1.||Sam Bird||Russian Time||+0.000s|
|4.||Tom Dillmann||Russian Time||+10.328s|
|9.||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||+27.894s|
|16.||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering||+37.671s|
|18.||Daniel de Jong||MP||+44.757s|
|25.||Rene Binder||Lazarus||+1 lap|
|DNF||Marcus Ericsson||DAMS||5 laps|
Fastest Lap : Nathanael Berthon (Trident Racing) – 1:45.301 on lap 17