Sam Bird took his fifth GP2 victory of the season in the Sprint Race in Singapore
Win moves Brit to within seven points of Fabio Leimer in championship
By William Esler. Last Updated: 22/09/13 12:53pm
Sam Bird: Winner in Singapore (GP2 Series Media)
Sam Bird eased to victory in the GP2 Sprint Race in Singapore in a race dominated by tyre degradation.
The British driver's fifth win of the season moved him to within seven points of championship leader Fabio Leimer with just two races in Abu Dhabi remaining.
Starting from reverse grid pole, Bird made a clean getaway and was able to control the pace at the front, establishing a comfortable two-second gap to Marcus Ericsson as he looked after his soft compound Pirelli tyres.
Having run an option, prime strategy in Saturday's race, Bird was fortunate to have a new set of the more durable compound available for Sunday, but even as early as lap four he was being told by the team to safe his tyres, highlighting how much of an issue it was. Indeed in the first half of the race, the pace was some four seconds slower than of the Feature Race.
This, though, allowed the RUSSIAN TIME driver to make his tyres last the race distance and he took victory by nearly six seconds.
Behind him, however, things were not so serene. Stefano Coletti ran into Mitch Evans on the opening lap, causing the Arden driver to spin. Being a narrow street circuit, this also delayed Dani Clos, Jake Rosenzweig, Julian Leal, Simon Trummer and Alexander Rossi. After damaging his front-wing in the accident, Coletti opted not to pit, but was shown the black and orange flag and once again the former championship leader failed to score a point.
There was more damage on lap three when having lost a spot to Jon Lancaster at the previous corner, James Calado tried to fend off Sergio Canamasas, forcing the Caterham driver to go around the outside of his ART. However, there was no room on the exit for the Spaniard and he collected the barriers and retired from the race. The stewards investigated the incident after the race and added 20 seconds to the Brit's finishing time - the equivalent of a drive-through penalty.
Struggling with his used rear primes, Calado pitted on lap seven for options and would cross the line in 19th place, but the penalty relegated him to 20th. By this stage Saturday's other two podium finishers were also having problems with their tyres. Both Carlins had started on the supersoft rubber having run prime, prime on their way to a one-two finish in the Feature Race.
Felipe Nasr was in on lap nine for a change of tyres as Jolyon Palmer stayed out and was easy prey for Jon Lancaster into turn one as the Hilmer driver took fifth. Indeed by the time Palmer stopped on lap 12, he had dropped to 19th as his tyres hit the cliff.
There was more drama after the chequered flag when third-place finisher Leimer T-boned Rossi's Caterham. The Racing Engineering driver was making his way to the F1 pit-lane for the podium ceremony, however, having finished 23rd the American attempted to return immediately to the support paddock as he swung 90 degrees across the circuit, the Swiss was left with nowhere to go.
The final two races of the 2013 GP2 Series take place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on 2nd and 3rd November, live on Sky Sports F1.
GP2 Sprint Race - Singapore
1) Sam Bird (GBR) - RUSSIAN TIME - 40:36.444
2) Marcus Ericsson (SWE) - DAMS - +5.787
3) Fabio Leimer (SWI) - Racing Engineering - +7.745
4) Stephane Richelmi (MON) - DAMS - +9.311
5) Jon Lancaster (GBR) - Hilmer Motorsport - +17.885
6) Johnny Cecotto (VEN) - Arden - +34.140
7) Daniel de Jong (NED) - MP Motorsport - +56.282
8) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) - Hilmer Motorsport - +57.159
9) Rene Binder (AUT) - Venezuela GP Lazarus - +1.07.397
10) Nathanael Berthon (FRA) - Trident Racing - +1:07.997
16) Felipe Nasr (BRA) - Carlin - +1:15.990
17) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - Carlin - +1:16.415
19) James Calado (GBR) - ART Grand Prix - +1:28.898
24) Stefano Coletti (MON) - Rapax - +1 lap
1) Fabio Leimer - 179
2) Sam Bird - 172
) Felipe Nasr - 148
4) Stefano Coletti - 135
5) James Calado - 134
6) Stephane Richelmi - 103
7) Marcus Ericsson - 102
8) Jolyon Palmer - 99
9) Tom Dillmann - 92
10) Jon Lancaster - 73