- GP2, Monaco Grand Prix, Race 1
Bird takes dominant Monaco victoryChris Medland May 24, 2013
Sam Bird took a dominant victory in the Monaco feature race after a first-corner crash severely depleted the field.
Bird beat Kevin Ceccon by 22 seconds, with Mitch Evans third as nine drivers dropped out at the first corner. The race had to be restarted following the incident, with pole-sitter Johnny Cecotto Jr one of the casualties along with championship contenders Fabio Leimer and Robin Frijns.
The race was delayed by 15 minutes due to a crash in the Porsche Supercup qualifying, and when it first got started, Cecotto got a poor start and then went straight on at Ste Devote to trigger a big crash behind which resulted in just ten cars completing the opening lap. The inevitable pile-up resulted in a red flag, and drivers involved returned to the pits, only to later run back to their stricken cars to try and take the restart. Following the race, stewards suspended Cecotto from Saturday's sprint race for causing the incident.
Taken out at the first corner by a number of idiots. Absolutely gutted. I'd sooner start from the pitlane than within two rows of Cecotto— Jolyon Palmer (@JolyonPalmer) May 24, 2013
Evans had led through turn one with Bird losing his rear wing as he was hit from behind, but he could have the damage repaired on the grid during the race suspension. Those who had stayed in their cars with little or no damage were push-started and returned to the grid, and the race re-started behind the safety car with those who made it through turn one in order, followed by the rejoining cars in qualifying order.
Evans made a good restart on super-soft tyres but Bird was much quicker on the softs and immediately closed right on the back of the sole remaining Arden. Stefano Coletti and Tom Dillmann were first to pit to try and gain track position as drivers became impatient behind slower cars. With the chasing pack having pit, Bird stayed patient behind the slow Evans and when Evans pit after 11 laps, Bird immediately pumped in some quick laps.
Evans lost out to Ceccon in the pit stops to rejoin in third place, and after a series of good laps Bird stopped to change just his rear tyres and retain a comfortable lead. However, there were almost 30 laps still to go and - as if to highlight the dangers of Monaco - just one lap after his stop Bird tapped the wall exiting Portier.
From that point on though, Bird drove a faultless race and cruised away from the rest of the field. Evans pressurised Ceccon for second but then had to hold off a late charge from Nasr to the line.
James Calado came home fifth ahead of Stefano Coletti - whose championship lead over Felipe Nasr was cut to 15 points - and Rene Binder, while Adrian Quaife-Hobbs overtook Stephane Richelmi on the final lap to secure reverse grid pole for the sprint race.
After the first lap carnage there was a surprising lack of errors, with only one driver retiring in the restarted race. Daniel Abt was quick behind Rio Haryanto and tried to get through at Rascasse but despite getting half way alongside Haryanto tried to shut the door. The resulting contact saw Hayranto's race ending in the barrier, while Abt was given a drive-through penalty for the collision and then later told to pit for the damage sustained to his car.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1