Fabio Leimer dominates opening race of Abu Dhabi GP2 event

Fabio Leimer claimed his maiden GP2 feature race victory with a dominant drive in Abu Dhabi

Fabio Leimer dominates opening race of Abu Dhabi GP2 event

The Swiss driver, who switched from Rapax to Racing Engineering for this weekend, converted pole position into the lead at the start, establishing an advantage of almost two seconds by the end of the first lap.

From there, Leimer, who has two GP2 sprint race wins to his name, expertly controlled the gap to nearest rival Luiz Razia (AirAsia). Razia's only hope of attacking came around the mandatory stops, but Leimer was able to wait until two laps after the Brazilian had pitted before pulling in himself, maintaining his lead in the process.

He re-emerged second behind Addax's Jolyon Palmer and retook the lead when the British driver pitted.

After the pitstops, Leimer held the gap to Razia at around the five second mark, stretching his advantage to 6.9s in the final laps.

Palmer, who started fifth, held on to take third place, comfortably his best result in GP2, after holding off pressure from iSport's Marcus Ericsson in the closing stages. Palmer had climbed to third at the start after Rapax driver Dani Clos, who had to leave room for the fast-starting Razia on the inside of the corner, clipped Josef Kral (Aden), who was attempting to go around the outside of both, into a spin at Turn 1.

With Clos retiring after recovering to the pits and Kral out of contention, Coloni driver Kevin Ceccon finished a strong fifth ahead of best rookie Tom Dillmann (iSport). He narrowly held off the challenge of fellow GP2 newcomer Antonio Felix da Costa, driving for Ocean Racing Technology.

GP3 runner-up James Calado claimed the all-important eighth position, earning reversed grid pole for tomorrow's sprint race. The ART driver had to fight hard to earn it, climbing from 11th on the grid to pass Stefano Coletti (Coloni) for eighth with nine laps to go and keeping Nathanael Berthon (Racing Engineering) at arm's length in the closing stages.

Esteban Gutierrez (ART), favourite heading into the weekend, finished 21st after a lengthy pitstop to replace his rear wing, which sustained damage when he was hit by Coletti on the opening lap, while Max Chilton (Carlin) crashed out of seventh early on.

Results - 31 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 58m53.563s 2. Luiz Razia AirAsia + 6.911s 3. Jolyon Palmer Addax + 28.708s 4. Marcus Ericsson iSport + 29.812s 5. Kevin Ceccon Coloni + 36.619s 6. Tom Dillmann iSport + 41.518s 7. Antonio Felix da Costa Ocean + 42.496s 8. James Calado ART + 45.669s 9. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering + 51.345s 10. Stefano Coletti Coloni + 1m02.481s 11. Giacomo Ricci Super Nova + 1m08.632s 12. Rio Haryanto DAMS + 1m13.503s 13. Alexander Rossi AirAsia + 1m16.572s 14. Nicolas Marroc Ocean + 1m28.973s 15. Nigel Melker DAMS + 1m30.328s 16. Julian Leal Trident + 1m33.669s 17. Mihai Marinescu Rapax + 1m35.344s 18. Fabio Onidi Super Nova + 1m43.541s 19. Stephane Richelmi Trident + 1 lap 20. Josef Kral Arden + 1 lap 21. Esteban Gutierrez ART + 1 lap Retirements: Jake Rosenzweig Addax 23 laps Simon Trummer Arden 23 laps Jan Charouz Carlin 18 laps Max Chilton Carlin 2 laps Dani Clos Rapax 1 lap 
shares
comments
Fabio Leimer takes maiden GP2 pole in Abu Dhabi qualifying

Previous article

Fabio Leimer takes maiden GP2 pole in Abu Dhabi qualifying

Next article

James Calado takes Abu Dhabi sprint race win on GP2 debut weekend

James Calado takes Abu Dhabi sprint race win on GP2 debut weekend
Load comments

About this article

Series FIA F2
Author Edd Straw
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Plus

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends

FIA F2
Apr 22, 2021
Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success? Plus

Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success?

Going into the 2021 Formula 2 season the biggest talking point wasn’t about any drivers or teams, but the new race weekend format. Created partly out of financial necessity but also to spice up the action, the Bahrain opener provided a snapshot of the positives and negatives to come

FIA F2
Apr 4, 2021
Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs Plus

Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs

He was tipped for glory in FIA Formula 2 last year, but was hampered by reliability woes at inopportune moments. Guanyu Zhou knows he won't get too many more chances if he is to become China's first F1 driver, with fierce competition within the ranks of Alpine's junior stable

FIA F2
Mar 25, 2021
How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance Plus

How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance

Michael Schumacher may have won seven Formula 1 titles, but he didn't even compete for a crown at the second tier. Son Mick put that right in 2020, and proved to Ferrari that he was deserving of a shot at motorsport's elite category in 2021

FIA F2
Jan 9, 2021
The quintet giving Ferrari a tough decision to make Plus

The quintet giving Ferrari a tough decision to make

The Ferrari Driver Academy earned a podium sweep in the first Formula 2 race of the new decade in Austria last weekend. The battle between 'the FDA five' is set to be one of the major subplots of the season, but who has the best F1 prospects for 2021?

FIA F2
Jul 8, 2020
The Williams junior determined to prove Red Bull wrong Plus

The Williams junior determined to prove Red Bull wrong

Dropped by his team in Japan and by Red Bull, Dan Ticktum's single-seater career seemed to be over last summer. But now he's on the Formula 2 grid with the reigning champion team, and he's a new protege of Williams. How did that happen?

FIA F2
Mar 20, 2020
The controversial weekend that ended an American's dream in Europe Plus

The controversial weekend that ended an American's dream in Europe

OPINION: In the latest in our series of features looking back the recently concluded 2010s, we recall one of the many sagas of the 2018 Formula 2 season, which featured unusual fines and an unsavoury clash between team-mates

FIA F2
Jan 3, 2020
The year Leclerc fully revealed his star status Plus

The year Leclerc fully revealed his star status

In the latest feature in our series looking back on the 2010s, we revisit Charles Leclerc's sensational Formula 2 season - where he strode among on-track highs and lows, as well as tragedy away from motorsport, to earn a place on the Formula 1 grid

FIA F2
Dec 26, 2019