Evans wins thrilling GP2 Feature Race
19 July 2014 – Mitch Evans pulled off a phenomenal Feature Race victory at a hot Hockenheim as GP2 celebrated its 200th race with a close fight for the top three positions.
Evans started from 15th place on the grid on the Medium compound tyres but executed a series of moves on rivals and timed his switch to Softs to perfection in order to claim the win, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Jolyon Palmer.
Vandoorne leapt ahead of pole-sitter Palmer into the first corner and the Briton had to defend aggressively against Stefano Coletti through Turn 2. Coletti nosed ahead into Turn 9 but Palmer cut back to retain second place.
The Safety Car was deployed at the end of the first lap following a couple of collisions and a strong restart from Vandoorne enabled the Belgian to retain his advantage. Palmer and Coletti maintained a watching eye while behind them, a separate trio of cars – which included Felipe Nasr, Arthur Pic and Raffaele Marciello – scrapped over fourth.
Pic and Marciello responded first but both hit problems in the pit-stop and lost almost an entire lap, a situation which played into the hands of Evans, who had leapt up to seventh by the time he stopped for fresh tyres.
Vandoorne extended his lead over Palmer, who in turn gapped Coletti, with the Racing Engineering driver beginning to struggle for tyre wear. The leading trio, still on their Soft tyres, all lost lap time compared to Evans, which played into the hands of the Russian Time driver. Palmer and Coletti both pitted at the end of Lap 23, with Vandoorne reacting a lap later to emerge from the pits behind only Evans, who made a stop earlier in the race.
The front three were separated by less than two seconds but ultimately their positions were maintained across the final few laps, with Evans beating Vandoorne by just four tenths of a second.
Behind them, several drivers scrapped as the diverging tyre strategies played out. Johnny Cecotto Jr. made a move on Stephane Richelmi with a few laps to go to claim fourth while Felipe Nasr went around the outside of Coletti at Turn 8 to take fifth place.
But the fighting did not stop there. Nasr dived down the inside of Cecotto Jr. into Turn 12 on the penultimate lap but both went wide, handing the position to Coletti. Nasr hounded Coletti but the latter held on for fourth, ahead of the Williams reserve driver and Simon Trummer, who took advantage of Cecotto Jr.'s trip through the gravel.
Nathanael Berthon took eighth place and the reverse grid pole position, ahead of Marco Sørensen and Richelmi, who tumbled down the order across the final couple of laps.
Tom Dillmann was unable to capitalise on his strong fourth place on the grid on his GP2 return as he stalled, while Artem Markelov retired on the opening lap after making contact with Jon Lancaster.
The GP2 Sprint Race from Hockenheim takes place on Sunday at 10:35 local time (GMT +2)