Jolyon Palmer has taken a huge step towards the 2014 GP2 Series championship after battling back from a qualifying exclusion to extend his lead at the top of the standings over nearest rival Felipe Nasr.
The British driver was victorious in the sprint race on Sunday after finishing eighth in the feature to secure reverse grid pole. Nasr, on the other hand, could finish no higher than sixth all weekend, and is now some 43 points adrift of Palmer in the title race.
Palmer’s weekend got off to a disastrous start when he was excluded from qualifying for a fuel infringement. As he did not have enough fuel left in his car at the end of the session, he was not included in the final classification. In seventh, Nasr appeared to have a great chance to cut the gap at the top.
However, it was Stoffel Vandoorne who took the spoils, winning the race from pole position ahead of Arthur Pic. The McLaren junior has been one of the stars of this year’s field, and should be in contention for the championship in 2015.
Palmer managed to produce a champion’s drive to finish the race in eighth place, thus securing himself reverse pole. However, Nasr had missed his chance to inflict maximum damage on the Briton, coming home P6 and making a gain of just two points.
From third on the grid on Sunday, Nasr still appeared to be in contention for the win, only for a bad start to end his chances. He did manage to recover to seventh by the flag, but with Palmer winning ahead of Stefano Coletti and DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi.
The second race was marred by the disqualification of Spanish racer Sergio Canamasas. The Trident driver caused a number of on-track incidents, with the stewards eventually opting to remove him from the race before it had finished. It is not yet clear whether or not they will look to take any more action against him.
GP2 now enjoys a month’s break before venturing to Sochi in support of the Russian Grand Prix. With just two rounds and four races to go, Nasr faces an almighty task to deny Palmer the GP2 title, and it seems likely that Great Britain will be celebrating its first win in the series since Lewis Hamilton back in 2006.