Valsecchi takes GP2 title
As Max Chilton dominates first ever GP2 race in Singapore
By William Esler. Last Updated: 22/09/12 5:59pm
Max Chilton underlined his F1 credentials with a commanding win in Singapore, but the day belonged to Davide Valsecchi who claimed the GP2 Series title.
A Fourth-place finish was enough for the Italian to claim DAMS' second title in as many years - Romain Grosjean took the 2011 crown for the French squad - as Luiz Razia, the only man who could deny him the crown, only managed fifth.
It was appropriate that Valsecchi took the title with fourth, as it was his consistent scoring throughout the season that won him the title. His victory in the sprint race at Monza was his first since the third round of the season in Bahrain.
Chilton lined up on the front row of the grid, alongside poleman Luca Filippi. However, Filippi nearly stalled on the grid, offering the British driver an easy run into Turn One and the lead of the race which he would never relinquish.
Gutierrez, avoiding the stationary Coloni car ahead of him at the start, moved into second, whilst Fabio Leimer jumped from fifth on the grid to third, ahead of Jolyon Palmer.
The Mexican had a look up the inside of Chilton at turn three, but couldn't make it stick, allowing Leimer to challenge him for second. A move at turn seven didn't pay off and Palmer nipped past into third.
The safety car was called for at the end of the lap, and when the race got back underway the Carlin driver moved clear of the field to edge clear as the pit-stop window opened. An early stop paid off for Filippi who had recovered from his nightmare start to run third, behind Chilton and Gutierrez as the field sorted themselves out.
Leimer was the only man able to match the pace of the top three and, after dispatching Palmer, was handed third when Filippi slowed with mechanical issues. After a trip to the pits the Coloni driver resumed down the order, eventually finishing the race in the barriers at the final corner.
Chilton held on at the front to win by 1.3 seconds from Gutierrez, setting up a thrilling battle between the pair for third in the Series when it reaches its climax on Sunday, with Leimer completing the podium.
"My second victory this year really couldn't have come at a better time for me, to top off what has been a great weekend so far with a Feature Race win is just perfect," said Chilton, announced earlier this week as Marussia's third driver for the rest of the 2012 season.
"The car was amazing, the pit stop was fast and strategy was great - the team did an amazing job all weekend so I want to thank them for that.
"It was a very long race in that car, we knew it was going to be but it was tough around here, so to take the win is even more special and I'm thrilled. I couldn't be happier with how today has gone."
A delighted Valsecchi said: "It's just unbelievable! I'm so so happy. We've had a great season and the car was competitive almost everywhere. In the key moments neither DAMS nor I made any mistakes.
"With four victories, ten podiums and six fastest laps we've shown that we're the best. So tomorrow I'm determined to thank the whole squad by clinching the teams' title."
GP2 Singapore Feature Race results
1. Max Chilton - 1:01:48.095
2. Esteban Gutierrez - +1.363
3. Fabio Leimer - +4.894
4. Davide Valsecchi - +5.945
5. Luiz Razia - +6.295
6. Felipe Nasr - +8.798
7. Marcus Ericsson - +14.229
8. Giedo van der Garde - +15.147
9. Rio Haryanto - +48.855
10. Nathanael Berthon - +51.466
1. Davide Valsecchi (ITA) - DAMS - 241
2. Luiz Razia (BRA) - Arden - 214
3. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) - Lotus - 172
4. Max Chilton (GBR) - Carlin - 169
5. James Calado (GBR) - Lotus - 160