Jolyon Palmer clinches GP2 drivers' title with Feature Race win in Russia
23-year-old first Briton to win the title since Lewis Hamilton in 2006
By William Esler
Last Updated: 11/10/14 4:56pm
Jolyon Palmer clinched the GP2 drivers’ title with a stunning victory in Russia to wrap up the championship with three races to spare.
The 23-year-old becomes the first Briton to win the title since Lewis Hamilton in 2006 and now has his targets firmly set on graduating to Formula 1 in 2015.
Palmer’s Feature Race victory was anything but easy in Sochi, however, as he was forced to fend off heavy pressure from Mitch Evans in the closing laps, whilst also waiting for various strategies to pay out.
After a crazy opening sequence of corners, Palmer found himself running in second, behind polesitter Stoffel Vandoorne, but it quickly became apparent that a win would give him the title when Felipe Nasr was handed a drive-through penalty for cutting across the inside of Turn Two and gaining an advantage. The Brazilian would actually be forced to take the penalty twice after mistakenly serving it under the Safety Car the first time he cruised through the pit-lane.
Previous GP2 Champions
2005 – Nico Rosberg.
2006 – Lewis Hamilton.
2007 – Timo Glock.
2008 – Giorgio Pantano.
2009 – Nico Hulkenberg.
2010 – Pastor Maldonado.
2011 – Romain Grosjean.
2012 – Davide Valsecchi.
2013 – Fabio Leimer.
The aforementioned caution period was caused by the Racing Engineering car of Stefano Coletti grinding to a halt on the side of the circuit, which allowed Palmer to make his mandatory stop on lap eight – a matter of minutes after he started to complain of rear graining.
That left him as the lead car in the snake that had stopped after a mistake from ART meant the call to Vandoorne was too late for the Belgian to enter the pits, forcing him to continue behind the Safety Car. The McLaren protégé tried to open up a gap following the restart and produced a number of fastest laps, but eventually finished fifth.
Thus, Palmer and Mitch Evans were effectively the race leaders when the race resumed and both managed to avoid wild weaving from Takuya Izawa to remain in contention. With less than a second covering the pair, Russian Time asked Artem Markelov to back Palmer into Evans, but the Kiwi couldn’t find a way past.
When Markelov pitted, Evans immediately had a lunge into Turn Two, but Palmer held on and set what was at that point the fastest lap of the race to give himself some breathing space.
At the chequered flag just 1.2 seconds separated the pair after nearly an hour of racing with Raffaele Marciello completing the podium in third.
GP2 Feature Race – Russia
1) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) – DAMS – 54:37.072
2) Mitch Evans (NZL) – Russian Time - +1.267
3) Raffaele Marciello (ITA) – Racing Engineering - +15.584
4) Arthur Pic (FRA) – Campos Racing - +17.550
5) Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) – ART Grand Prix - +18.104
6) Andre Negrao (BRA) – Arden International - +23.154
7) Sergio Canamasas (ESP) – Trident - +28.231
8) Julian Leal (COL) – Carlin - +29.382
9) Marco Sorensen (DEN) – MP Motorsport - +29.493
10) Nathanael Berthon (FRA) – Venezuela GP Pazarus - +31.332
12) Jon Lancaster (GBR) – Hilmer Motorsport - +32.080
18) Felipe Nasr (BRA) – Carlin - +43.287
1) Jolyon Palmer – 256
2) Felipe Nasr – 190
3) Stoffel Vandoorne – 180
4) Mitch Evans – 143
5) Johnny Cecotto - 128