Gasly and Leclerc crowned GP2 champions with Pirelli
Before the Formula 1 title decider in Abu Dhabi, the GP2 and GP3 champions were determined on the same circuit, with two potential future stars of F1 being crowned. In GP2, Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly came out on top in a battle with rookie Antonio Giovinazzi, his team mate at the Prema outfit in its first season in the category. Charles Leclerc, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, claimed the GP3 honours and will now graduate to GP2 with a 200,000 Euro prize fund from Pirelli. GP2
|Pierre Gasly won the GP2 feature race on his way to the title|
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft tyres were nominated for GP2 at the Yas Marina circuit, creating a large gap in performance. The supersoft tyres had to be looked after carefully, but Gasly set a strong pace on his set to open up a good lead before pitting at the end of lap six – as soon as the pit stop window opened – for the medium tyres. Nobuharu Matsushita, a test and development driver for McLaren Honda in F1, used the alternate strategy, starting on the more durable medium tyre and leading for much of the race as the supersoft drivers pitted. Gasly however raced well in the pack to ensure that the Japanese driver re-joined from his late pit stop behind him on track. Matsushita set the fastest lap on his fresh supersoft tyres to beat Artem Markelov to second, but couldn’t deny Gasly the win. Giovinazzi was passed by several cars after staying out a lap later than rival Gasly, but recovered to finish in fifth.
|Charles Leclerc became GP3 champion|
Gasly took a 12-point advantage into the sprint race, and although he finished up out of the points in ninth, he had done enough to win the title with Giovinazzi finishing the race in sixth place. At 20, the Frenchman is the second-youngest GP2 champion, behind the inaugural winner, Nico Rosberg. The sprint race, in which all drivers started on the medium tyres, was won by Alex Lynn, who took his third win of the season. GP3 The P Zero Red supersoft was nominated for use in GP3 for the first time, ensuring that good tyre management would be important in the races, which both took place in high midday temperatures. In Race 1, Alex Albon was doing everything he could to keep his title chances alive by leading from pole position, but a collision with Jack Aitken forced him into retirement and confirmed his ART Grand Prix team-mate Leclerc as the champion. The 19-year-old from Monaco is set to step up to GP2 next year. Speaking about his GP3 season, he said: “It’s good preparation for the future. We race with Pirelli tyres. It’s good way to GP2: you have the same type of race weekends with the reverse grid on Sundays.” Nyck de Vries, a McLaren junior driver, took the feature race victory for ART ahead of Arden pairing Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken. DAMS driver Jake Hughes started the first race from the pit lane after a penalty but ended the second race as a winner for the second time in GP3. He preserved his tyres well in a duel with fellow Briton Aitken, while Honda protégé Nirei Fukuzumi finished third. Quotes: Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “Abu Dhabi produced a thrilling climax in both GP2 and GP3, which was all about managing thermal degradation. Congratulations to both Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc, two very talented and deserving drivers, on their hard-earned success. The nomination of the medium and supersoft tyres made for a strategic GP2 feature race, with the eventual top two drivers taking alternate approaches. Tyre management also played a part in the sprint race, keeping the leading drivers closely bunched. The supersoft had a good debut in GP3, forcing the drivers to think about how to get the best out of the tyre but still allowing them to race hard.”
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