Stoffel Vandoorne’s domination of the 2015 GP2 Series season continued on Friday as he eased to his sixth win of the season in Bahrain.
GP2 returned to Bahrain this weekend to make up for the cancellation of the races supporting the German Grand Prix, appearing on the undercard of the FIA World Endurance Championship finale.
Despite having the championship already won, Vandoorne arrived in Bahrain keen to replicate his perfect display in the opening race of the season when he was victorious from pole position.
The Belgian was forced to settle for second on the grid behind Pierre Gasly, but got the jump on the Frenchman on the first lap to take the lead.
Vandoorne spent the early stage of the race with an advantage of around two seconds over Gasly, but managed to increase his lead to over 12 seconds by pushing towards the end of his first stint.
After re-emerging from the pits in the lead, Vandoorne eased home for his sixth win of the year ahead of teammate Nobuharu Matsushita, who had made a longer first stint give him the chance to push late on. The one-two finish saw ART Grand Prix wrap up the GP2 teams’ championship.
Russian Time’s Mitch Evans completed the podium, but was fortunate to make it that far after being hit by American driver Alexander Rossi with seven laps to go. Rossi sustained front wing damage and was forced to pit before eventually finishing down in 18th position.
Williams development driver Alex Lynn will start Saturday’s sprint race from pole after finishing eighth on Friday.
Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.
Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.
It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.
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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.
“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”
The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.
Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.
“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”