Bahrain GP2: Russian Time driver Sam Bird bags Sakhir sprint race
Sun Apr 21st – It’s happy time for Russian Time team at Bahrain International Circuit: Sam Bird took a lights-to-flag maiden win for the newcomers holding off a charging Felipe Nasr. The Brit crossed the finish line 0.08s ahead of the Brazilian. In third, Stefano Coletti pockets a fourth podium in four races and maintains the lead in the drivers’ standings.
Tom Dillmann started from reverse pole today. When the lights went off, the Frenchman was busy holding off Adrian Quaife-Hobbs whilst Stefano Coletti charged from P7 on the grid around the outside of Turn 1 to move up to P3. Bird recovered from a slow start from third on the grid, finding a way past Quaife-Hobbs and Coletti on the inside. He immediately put pressure on his teammate for the lead. Further down the pack, contact between Nasr and Alexander Rossi sent the American back to the pits to fix a damaged car. There was more drama with another collision involving Marcus Ericsson and Rio Haryanto.
At the front, Bird overtook Dillmann in the final corner of lap 1. The Frenchman immediately tried to fight back for his position at Turn 1, the two cars running side by side in the following corner. Bird fended off his teammate’s attacks well whilst Dillmann lost a position to Coletti. Nasr was next up and quickly discarded Dillmann too. Bird started to try and build a gap to Coletti that would extend up to 3.8s.
Behind the top three, Quaife-Hobbs, Fabio Leimer and Jolyon Palmer were fighting tooth and nail for fifth place, James Calado and Daniel Abt not too far from the fight. Palmer made a move on Leimer who, trying to defend his position went wide and dropped to eighth, behind Calado. Quaife-Hobbs was then under huge pressure from Palmer, with Calado in tow. The three British drivers battled fearlessly with Calado finding a way past Palmer and Quaife-Hobbs, the MP Motorsport driver also dropping behind the Carlin man. Abt added to Qauife-Hobbs’ misery passing him for seventh place.
In the final laps, Coletti and Nasr picked up the pace, reducing Bird’s advantage to nothing. Struggling on tyres, Coletti braked too hard and ran wide in the final corner of the penultimate lap allowing Nasr to get past and to hunt down Bird for the win. The final lap of the race saw an epic battle between the two drivers, Nasr all over Bird and at the chequered flag, Bird crossed the finish line a hairsbreadth ahead of the Carlin man. Coletti brought home another podium finish ahead of Dillmann, Calado, Palmer, Abt and Quaife-Hobbs.
As Leimer scored no points today, Coletti keeps the lead in the drivers’ championship with 64 points, ten points ahead of the Swiss. Nasr is in third with 48 points. Bird moves up to fifth with 33 points. Calado is now sixth with 24 points, 2 points ahead of Palmer.
Sakhir – Sprint race
1. Sam Bird RUSSIAN TIME
2. Felipe Nasr Carlin
3. Stefano Coletti Rapax
4. Tom Dillmann RUSSIAN TIME
5. James Calado ART Grand Prix
6. Jolyon Palmer Carlin
7. Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix
8. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport
9. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering
10. Kevin Ceccon Trident Racing
11. Sergio Canamasas Caterham Racing
12. Johnny Cecotto Arden International
13. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS
14. Simon Trummer Rapax
15. Mitch Evans Arden International
16. Julian Leal Racing Engineering
17. Kevin Giovesi Venezuela GP Lazarus
18. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport
19. Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team
20. Alexander Rossi Caterham Racing
21. Pal Varhaug Hilmer Motorsport
22. Nathanaël Berthon Trident Racing
23. Robin Frijns Hilmer Motorsport
24. Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team
25. Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus
Marcus Ericsson DAMS
Fastest Lap : Nathanaël Berthon (Trident Racing) – 1:45.301 on lap 17