Gutiérrez wins as carnage strikes in Valencia
23 June 2012 – Esteban Gutiérrez, the Sauber Formula 1 reserve driver, has won Saturday’s GP2 Feature Race on the streets of Valencia. The Mexican led home Marcus Ericsson and Luiz Razia as a series of incidents brought out the Safety Car on three occasions.
The victory marks the second of the season for Gutiérrez, although it should by rights have gone to team-mate James Calado. Having started from pole position, the Englishman stretched out a leading advantage of some 15 seconds before being caught out by the first Safety Car; once he did pit, ninth position was his unjust reward.
It was an afternoon full of frustration for a number of drivers, not least Giedo van der Garde. The Dutch Caterham driver shot through to second place at the start, looking to eat into the championship advantage of Davide Valsecchi as the Italian endured a dreadful getaway. However his race soon became a collection of incidents, starting at Turn 17 when he was hit by eventual winner Gutiérrez. He then experienced a sticking right-rear wheel gun, narrowly missing a mechanic crossing the pit lane on his way back out. He finished in 12th place.
Calado’s advantage disappeared when Rodolfo González failed to avoid an errant rear wing end plate in the middle of the circuit, scattering debris at Turn 7 and bringing out the Safety Car. On the restart, green flag conditions were enjoyed for just one lap. As Felipe Nasr’s DAMS lost drive crossing the swing bridge, Jolyon Palmer attempted to take advantage; missing his braking point, the Monaco winner piled into Fabrizio Crestani at Turn 10, flipping the Italian into a spectacular roll. A third Safety Car visit came after González turned Giancarlo Serenelli into the wall at Turn 13.
At the final restart, following Calado’s painful pit-stop, Gutiérrez was closely challenged by Ericsson, who took the chequered flag only 1.6 seconds behind. Luiz Razia was pleased with a rostrum result, not least as he finished five slots in front of Valsecchi whose championship lead is now reduced to 20 points ahead of the Sprint Race.
Sunday’s Sprint Race begins at 10:35am local time (BST +1)