Jolyon Palmer won a thrilling GP2 Feature Race on the streets of Monte Carlo
Briton extends his lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship
By William Esler
Last Updated: 23/05/14 2:03pm
Two safety cars, a red flag and several cars in the barrier meant you couldn't take your eyes off the race for a second and at the chequered flag just six-tenths of a second separated the top three drivers.
Poleman Palmer opted to start on the harder of the two Pirelli tyres and lost out to Mitch Evans, who was on the supersoft rubber, on the run into Sainte Devote.
Behind them Felipe Nasr leapt from 18th to 12th on the opening lap before the safety car was deployed to recover the car of Facu Regalia, which lost drive on the exit of the Nouvelle Chicane and came to a halt on the inside of Tabac.
When the action got back underway, Nasr dived into the pits on lap seven to make an early mandatory stop which dropped him to the back of the field, whilst at the front Palmer's soft tyres had started to work better than Evans' supersofts and the Briton was soon all over the back of the Russian Time car.
The DAMS driver dived to the inside of the Kiwi at Sainte Devote on lap 11 to take the lead of the race and promptly pulled out over two seconds' advantage when they next crossed the line.
That lead swiftly evaporated when Rene Binder hit Arden team-mate Andre Negrao at the hairpin, spinning the Brazilian and blocking the track causing a red flag.
With a number of cars stranded and overheating on the run down from Mirabeau as a result, the onboard computers put a number of them into 'safety mode', leading to farcical scenes of drivers being bump-started by the marshals through the tunnel and down to the chicane. Binder was subsequently given a ten-second stop/go penalty for causing a collision by the stewards.
After a long delay the race was finally restarted and Palmer pulled five seconds clear of Evans in just three laps as the Russian Time driver struggled with worn tyres. The gap to Evans wasn't the one that mattered however - Nasr running in 14th spot was the first driver to make a mandatory stop and Palmer needed to be around 30 seconds clear of the Brazilian before he came in.
The DAMS driver did a brilliant job of pushing on at the front, but the team's hand was forced on lap 25 when Julian Leal mistimed an overtaking move and hit the wall at the chicane prompting another safety car period. Palmer and Evans were both in next time around and managed to stay ahead of Nasr as the safety car picked up the leaders.
The stop could have spelled disaster for Palmer, though, as DAMS also had his team-mate's tyres in the pit-lane ready for Stephane Richelmi and the Briton clipped one of the Monegasque driver's new Pirellis when exiting the box, firing it across the pitlane. However, no penalty was awarded before the chequered flag.
When the race resumed on lap 28 Stefano Coletti was the man on a charge and he pulled off lovely moves on Nasr and Evans into Antony Noghes on successive laps.
He couldn't achieve the feat a third time, though, when he tried to pass Simon Trummer, who had found himself near the front having yet to stop. The Rapax driver didn't expect the late move from the Monegasque and they made contact with both cars ending up in the barriers and out of the race.
There was more drama around the rest of the two-mile circuit in the closing laps with Honda protégé Takuya Izawa ending up in the wall at Mirabeau and Binder making contact with Artem Markelov at the chicane forcing the Russian Time driver to retire, before Binder himself went into the wall at Tabac.
As Palmer's tyres faded, Evans closed in as the race neared its conclusion. But he in turn was being pressured by Nasr and couldn't take any risks when trying to get in a position to challenge for the lead.
The top three flashed across the line nose-to-tail with just 0.6s separating them as the chequered flag fell.
The result means Palmer maintains his record of a podium at every race in 2014 and also extends his lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship to 44 points.
You can see the GP2 Sprint Race live on Sky Sports F1 from 3pm on Saturday.
GP2 Feature Race - Monaco
1) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - DAMS - 1:38.31.193
2) Mitch Evans (NZL) - Russian Time - +0.427
3) Felipe Nasr (BRA) - Carlin - +0.653
4) Johnny Cecotto (VEN) - Trident - +2.175
5) Sergio Canamasas (ESP) - Trident - +2.884
6) Arthur Pic (FRA) - Campos Racing - +6.187
7) Rio Haryantio (INA) - Caterham Racing - +8.718
8) Stephane Richelmi (MON) - DAMS - +9.594
9) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) - Rapax - +9.785
10) Tio Ellinas (CYP) - MP Motorsport - +10.187
1) Jolyon Palmer - 101
2) Felipe Nasr - 57
3) Julian Leal - 48
4) Johnny Cecotto - 41
5) Arthur Pic - 34
6) Stoffel Vandoorne - 25
7) Mitch Evans - 20
8) Simon Trummer - 18
9) Stephane Richelmi - 17
10) Rio Haryanto - 16