• GP2, European Grand Prix, Race 1

Gutierrez wins eventful GP2 feature race

ESPN Staff
June 23, 2012
Esteban Gutierrez won the feature race in Valencia © Sutton Images
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Esteban Gutierrez won an action-packed GP2 feature race in Valencia, taking advantage of three safety car periods which stole victory from his Lotus team-mate James Calado.

Gutierrez had a scrappy race but in the end crossed the line ahead of Marcus Ericsson in second and Fabio Leimer in third. Calado led from pole position at the start while Gutierrez fought over second place with Geido van der Garde, eventually running into the back of the Caterham on lap 10. From that point onwards van der Garde continued to drop down the order, but Gutierrez came back into contention when a safety car came out to clear debris left on the track after Tom Dillmann's rear wing fell off and was hit by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Calado had been leading comfortably up to that point but had not made his mandatory pit stop while the cars behind him had. As a result he faced losing several positions through no fault of his own and potentially dropping to the back of the pack if he pitted under the safety car. His only option was to sprint away from the pack when the safety car returned to the pits, but that plan was scuppered when Joylon Palmer tipped Fabrizio Crestani into a roll coming off the bridge and brought about a second safety car period.

Crestani's car ended up upside down but the driver was okay and once the wreckage had been cleared the race was on again. At the restart Gutierrez tried to pass Leimer for second into the final corner of the lap but made contact with him, dropping Leimer down the order as Razia took advantage of the situation and moved into second. But Gutierrez's Lotus was faster than Razia's Arden and he passed him into turn 12 before Ericsson also found a way past Razia for third on lap 21.

Soon after another safety car came out after Gonzalez took out Giancarlo Serenelli and sent him into the barriers at turn 13. However, Stefano Coletti in 11th was picked up by the safety car on track, meaning Calado was given the opportunity to pit and come out in tenth rather than drop to the back of the tightly bunched pack.

In doing so the lead was handed to Gutierrez and Calado rejoined the action on the back of Davide Valsecchi. A drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit lane release for Johnny Cecotto in eighth meant Calado all of a sudden had a sniff at eighth place and potentially pole position on tomorrow's reverse grid for sprint race. But Valsecchi managed to hold him off and took eighth place for himself behind Max Chilton in seventh, Nathanael Berthon in sixth, Rio Haryanto in fifth and Leimer who eventually finished fourth.

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