Racing Engineering's Christian Vietoris got a flying start from third on the grid to slip through the middle of the struggling front row starters and claim the lead of the Monza sprint race going into the first chicane
He was followed by Fabio Leimer, who had finally managed to get away ahead of polesitter Jules Bianchi. Bianchi regained the position after overshooting the first chicane but had to hand it back to Leimer before being served a penalty, Leimer in turn having just about held off Adam Carroll in fourth place into the chicane. Vietoris went on to withstand early pressure from Leimer and eventually had a relatively comfortable second half run to the chequered flag.
Bianchi had been aiming to claim second place in the drivers' championship but faced stiff pressure from Charles Pic and Luca Filippi who were starting alongside each other on the fourth row. However, Pic's challenge was short-lived as he missed his braking into the first chicane, rode up the rear-end of Romain Grosjean's Dams, lost his front wing and hit the side of Filippi's Coloni before ending up clattering into the barrier.
Pic ended up rolling to a halt and retiring shortly after this trauma, while Grosjean went two laps down in the pits for a new rear wing. But Filippi was able to continue, and soon passed Esteban Gutierrez next time through the chicane and then an off-the-pace Carroll to climb to fifth place. However Filippi was then stalled in that position behind Sam Bird and made no further progress in the race, while Bird was similarly frustrated by Bianchi ahead of him.
Eventually, Filippi dropped away from the back of Bird to give himself room to make a successful effort to win the bonus point for fastest lap. That meant clinching the second place in the 2011 GP2
drivers championship outright, rather than end up tied in points with Bianchi and having to rely on 'most wins' as a tiebreaker. When they finally crossed the line, Bianchi, Bird and Filippi were back to running nose-to-tail, a total of 4s covering the top five.
Nether of the top two teams - Barwa Addax and Dams - had drivers in the points, which means that Addax wins the team championship title and Dams comfortably takes the runners-up position despite third-placed team Racing Engineering's final race win.
As well as Pic, the first lap also saw retirements for Fairuz Fauzy and Julian Leal who ran off into the gravel at Variante Ascari, while Davide Valsecchi lost control of the #27 Caterham Team AirAsia car on lap 12 on the exit of the Parabolica and found the wall, but fortunately no safety car was required.
Michael Herck, who had been penalised ten grid positions and handed a reprimand for causing a collision with Julian Leal in the Saturday feature race, did not take the start of the sprint race because the collision exacerbated a hand injury originally sustained in 2008. Herck opted to leave Monza overnight and return to Monaco to have the injury treated by his specialist.
Although this is the final race weekend of the 2011 GP2
season, there will be one more outing for the teams and cars this year at Abu Dhabi in November, with the one-off GP2
Final exhibition race weekend marking the merger of the GP2
Asia series in 2012.
Full sprint race results and times