Fabio Leimer holds off Sam Bird to take GP2 Feature Race victory at Monza

Swiss driver moves into the lead of the Drivers' Championship

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:37pm

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Fabio Leimer: Winner at Monza (GP2 Series Media)

Fabio Leimer: Winner at Monza (GP2 Series Media)

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Fabio Leimer took victory in the GP2 Feature Race at Monza and with it the lead of the Drivers' Championship after a thrilling battle with Sam Bird.

The pair ran completely opposing strategies in the race with Bird starting on the hard compound tyre and Leimer on the medium. That initial extra traction allowed the Swiss to get the jump on the RUSSIAN TIME driver at the start and lead into turn one. However, it soon became clear that there was little to choose between them as they lapped within a couple of tenths of each other in the opening laps.

Marcus Ericsson was another to benefit from the medium compound at the start as he got past Jolyon Palmer for third, whilst Stefano Coletti, who went into the race leading the championship, was running just behind Jake Rosenzweig in sixth as he sought his first points haul in six races.

The Monegasque's run of misfortune would continue, though, as he picked up a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane after making his mandatory stop on lap seven. The Rapax driver attacked the pit-lane speed limit line and locked both of his front-tyres as he entered, but was unable to scrub off enough speed. He would eventually retire on lap 24.

Coletti's nearest challenger heading to Italy was Carlin's Felipe Nasr, but he also failed to make the finish when an engine failure brought his race to an end on lap 20.

To compound Carlin's misery, they failed to properly attach Palmer's left-rear tyre at his stop, despite a long delay, and it fell off at the first Lesmo, robbing the British driver the chance of a podium finish - something that seemed likely when Ericsson retired with a left-rear puncture five laps later.

When Leimer made his stop to ditch the medium compound tyre, Bird inherited the lead and set about opening as much of a gap as he could. The tyre-life on the RUSSIAN TIME car seemed good as he posted fastest lap after fastest lap before his stop on lap 20. The team opted to switch to the medium compound, but a delay on the right-rear delayed the Brit, undoing all of his work during the opening stint and he rejoined 4.1 seconds behind Leimer.

He quickly closed the gap, however, and just half a second separated the pair when Bird was told "not to take any risks" by his team and he dropped back on the final two laps as Leimer took his third win of the season.

GP2 Italy - Feature Race
1) Fabio Leimer (SWI) - Racing Engineering - 47:48.311
2) Sam Bird (GBR) - RUSSIAN TIME - +0.806
3) Tom Dillmann (FRA) - RUSSIAN TIME - +6.137
4) Stephane Richelmi (MON) - DAMS - +9.902
5) Julian Leal (COL) - Racing Engineering - +15.400
6) James Calado (GBR) - ART Grand Prix - +18.748
7) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) - Hilmer Motorsport - +24.007
8) Alexander Rossi (USA) - Caterham Racing - +30.276
9) Sergio Canamasas (ESP) - Caterham Racing - +40.272
10) Vittorio Ghirelli (ITA) - Venezuela GP Lazarus - +44.906

Selected others
13) Jon Lancaster (GBR) - Hilmer Motorsport - +47.635
Stefano Coletti (MON) - Rapax - Not classified
Felipe Nasr (BRA) - Carlin - Not classified
Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - Carlin - Not classified

Drivers' Championship
1) Fabio Leimer - 153
2) Sam Bird - 145
3) Stefano Coletti - 135
4) Felipe Nasr - 130
5) James Calado - 119
6) Stephane Richelmi - 83
7) Marcus Ericsson - 82
8) Tom Dillmann - 78
9) Jolyon Palmer - 68
10) Jon Lancaster - 65

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