- GP2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race 1
Dominant Razia wins feature raceChris Medland March 24, 2012
Luiz Razia won the opening GP2 race of the season with a dominant performance in the feature race in Malaysia.
Razia took the lead off the line and went on to beat Davide Valsecchi by nearly eight seconds as he made the most of the clear air at the front to dictate the pace. Max Chilton was third for Carlin after a close battle with a group involving Fabio Leimer, Stefano Coletti and Felipe Nasr.
Jolyon Palmer and Tom Dillmann both stalled on the grid at the end of the formation lap causing the race start to be aborted. As a result both had to start from the pit lane as the rest of the field carried out another formation lap.
When the lights finally went out a poor start from pole-sitter Valsecchi allowed Razia through in to the lead. Chilton was somewhat baulked by the slow DAMS car allowing Leimer and Coletti through up in to second and third places.
Esteban Gutierrez made a strong start from 15th and dived up the inside of Johnny Cecotto in to turn four on the second lap to promote himself in to the points early. Cecotto was the first driver to pit but a loose right rear caused his retirement soon after.
Coletti made an error in turn eight when attacking Leimer for second place, allowing the recovering Valsecchi to find a way past in to turn nine. On lap six Valsecchi then lined up Leimer and went round the outside of him in to turn one, allowing him to complete the move on the inside of turn two.
Leimer was struggling with his tyres, backing up the field behind him. Coletti pit early to try and get the jump on fresh tyres, while Leimer and Nasr came in together on the next lap. Chilton and Calado came in together a lap later and when it all shook out Chilton managed to jump ahead of both Leimer and Coletti.
Gutierrez had made strong progress to the front as he went to half distance before pitting, but on entering the pit lane he ran wide on to the grass and did well to keep the car out of the barriers. It cost him time though, and he rejoined back in ninth, losing out to Fabrizio Crestani for a few laps.
The close battle for third was unfortunately strung out after the pit stops by some odd driving by Giancarlo Serenelli who was a lap down. A lack of blue flags didn't help matters but Serenelli insisted on racing every driver trying to put another lap on him, breaking up the field.
As tyre wear became an issue later in the race Calado made an error as he locked up in to the final corner, allowing his team-mate Gutierrez up in to seventh place. Calado recovered to hold off Giedo van der Garde until the end, however, and even reported rain falling at turn six with four laps to go couldn't mix up the standings at the front. Razia eased home for his second victory in the main series while the two Lotus ART cars will line up on the front row for tomorrow's reverse grid.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1