Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service
Robin Frijns won just his third race in GP2 in a classic feature race in Barcelona.
At the scene of his controversial Formula Renault 3.5 title success, the Dutchman took advantage of an early pit-stop from sixth place. When the five drivers ahead of him stopped soon afterwards, all bar race-leader and pole-sitter Marcus Ericsson re-joined behind.
Ericsson then hit trouble as the leaders tried to get past slower traffic, slowing and retiring. That put Frijns effectively into the race lead, taking up P1 when those that started on the hard tyre made their stops.
Despite having a pack of cars behind him, he managed the gap perfectly and kept the life in his tyres to cross the line with a three second advantage. It was a first win for the new Hilmer Motorsport team.
Championship leader Stefano Coletti had run second to Ericsson in the early stages after another of his trademark quick launches, but paid for making his pitstop a bit later and lost a number of places when he rejoined.
Jolyon Palmer ran behind Frijns early on and pitted at the same time. Sam Bird separated the pair when he pitted from fourth, but lost out to Palmer when he ran off-track trying to pull off a double overtake on both Frijns and the slower Daniel De Jong.
Bird spent much of the rest of the race trying to re-pass Palmer but was unable to do so. He therefore succumbed to a hard-charging Felipe Nasr, who once again managed his race perfectly to have more life in his tyres at the end of the race. The Brazilian passed Alexander Rossi, Coletti, Bird and then Palmer in the second half of the race to claim second place.
When Nasr passed Palmer, Bird looked to follow him through but found himself forced off into the gravel, spinning and retiring. Frijns? new team-mate Jon Lancaster came through to finish fourth on his GP2 return ahead of Coletti and Tom Dillmann.
Dillmann had an adventurous race. One of those to start on hards after a disappointing qualifying, he changed onto another set of the hard compound mid-race. That dropped him to 13th, but he began searing through the field, only to be knocked off track trying to pass Stephane Richelmi (who was given a penalty as a result).
On fresher rubber than those around him, Dillmann surged his way up as far as fourth with brilliant overtaking manoeuvres. An attempted pass however around the outside of Palmer for third ended up with him running wide and slipping back to sixth.
Rossi, Kevin Ceccon, Johnny Cecotto and Rio Haryanto completed the top ten, Ceccon claiming the reverse grid pole for Sunday.
James Calado and Fabio Leimer made contact off the start as the former dived for a gap ahead of him, cutting in front of Leimer. Calado’s tough start to the season continued as he retired to the pits with damage while Leimer finished down in 18th after a change of front wing.
Meanwhile there was a large shunt for Nathanael Berthon as he missed his breaking point for turn ten and flew over the back of both Sergio Canamasas and Dillmann.
|1||Robin Frijns||Hilmer Motorsport||37 laps in 1:00:38.896|
|4||Jon Lancaster||Hilmer Motorsport||+12.609|
|6||Tom Dillmann||Russian Time||+14.325|
|7||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Racing||+17.160|
|8||Kevin Ceccon||Trident Racing||+17.504|
|9||Johnny Cecotto||Arden International||+24.013|
|10||Rio Haryanto||Barwa Addax Team||+32.024|
|11||Daniel Abt||ART Grand Prix||+32.823|
|12||Mitch Evans||Arden International||+35.748|
|13||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering||+39.922|
|14||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team||+40.999|
|16||Daniel De Jong||MP Motorsport||+43.102|
|17||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||MP Motorsport||+54.532|
|18||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||+56.946|
|20||Rene Binder||Venezuela GP Lazarus||+1 lap|
|21||Sam Bird||Russian Time||+4 laps|
|Kevin Giovesi||Venezuela GP Lazarus||+11 laps|
|Marcus Ericsson||DAMS||+10 laps|
|Sergio Canamasas||Caterham Racing||+5 laps|
|Nathanael Berthon||Trident Racing||+4 laps|
|James Calado||ART Grand Prix||+1 lap|