CLICK: Full Sunday GP2 sprint race 2 results
There was a time when Carlin's Felipe Nasr was famous for being the most successful and talented driver not to have won a race in GP2, but those days are firmly behind him. After breaking his duck at Catalunya and backing it up with a second victory last time out at Austria, he was clearly firmly on a roll as he picked up an easy third win at Silverstone.
"I'm just very happy, it didn't take long to have another win," Nasr said on the podium. "Thanks to these guys, who have been working so hard. It was a shame for us yesterday but we got it back today with a win."
Nasr lined up in second place on the starting grid on Sunday, Stephane Richelmi having been handed pole position for the 21-lap sprint race after finishing eighth in the previous day's feature race. Thankfully there was no question of rain for this event, although conditions were unusually cold, grey and overcast for July - even for a British summer.
It was Nasr who pulled off the perfect start to leap into the lead when the lights went out, with Richelmi getting swallowed up and quickly dropping to fifth place. Racing Engineering's Stefano Coletti was the main gainer, picking up second place ahead of Johnny Cecotto Jr. (Trident) and Julian Leal (Carlin). Richelmi meanwhile was soon under siege from Saturday race winner Mitch Evans in the Russian Time #1, but Evans had problems of his own as DAMS' Jolyon Palmer was quickly nipping at his heels and quickly made a bold move to wrest sixth place from the Kiwi.
The start of the race had been distinctly less successful for Alexander Rossi, who stalled on the grid and ended up a lap down by the time he finally got back underway. It was also downright disastrous for Saturday polesitter Raffaele Marciello who ended up in a first corner tussle with Artem Markelov (Russian Time), Jon Lancaster (Hilmer Motorsport) and Sergio Canamasas (Caterham) that ejected the Racing Engineering car into the gravel, where it remained. The incident was deemed a racing matter and no further action was taken against any of those involved.
The cold morning conditions seemed to be having an adverse affect on the rear handling of the cars, with alert drivers able to take advantage of the twitches and slips of those in front. In one such incident Palmer was able to pick up fifth position when his team mate Richelmi briefly went off-road, while Marco Sorenson (MP Motorsports) was similarly quick to pounce when Stoffel Vandoorne's ART had a moment of his own.
The race also saw a number of retirements on pit lane, with Rio Haryanto forced to retire his Caterham with mechanical issues and Sergio Canamasas soon joining him on the sidelined with rear wing damage to his Trident. A collision between Arthur Pic (Campos Racing) and Takuya Izawa (ART) near the end of the race saw two more cars finish their weekend in the pits.
No such mishaps for the race leader, however, who soon pulled out a three second lead over Coletti who himself had four seconds in hand over Cecotto. Behind the top three, things were less settled with Palmer getting the better of Leal to claim fourth place, and Mitch Evans all over the back of Richelmi in a tight battle for sixth. Evans seemed to lack the necessary front line speed, however, and his best chance to pass for position was foiled when he clattered across the kerb and lost momentum.
In the closing laps, a panicked radio call from Coletti suggested that the Racing Engineering car was suffering from a loss of engine power down the straights, raising the spectre that the problem that had wrecked Marciello's campaign on Saturday was now about to bite his team mate. However the situation seemed to steady itself and Coletti was able to manage the issue and maintain a decent pace: even though Cecotto started to close the gap, the Venezuelan had problems of his own with Palmer now breathing heavily down his neck.
The win of course was never in doubt, Nasr clinching his third GP2 win as he crossed the line well ahead of Coletti, who had husbanded his car to second place on the podium despite his engine misfire problems.
"In the first early laps I tried to build a gap to Stefano and then tried to look after the tyres," said Nasr afterwards. "When he started to get closer again I was able to respond. Then I just wanted to make sure I brought the car home. It's a good way to finish the weekend."
"Today was a good result for the team after some disappointment yesterday," added team principal Trevor Carlin. "The boys have been working extremely hard and Felipe drove a faultless race to take another victory. Julian also took some strong points and with only two weeks until the next round we'll be pushing hard to maintain this momentum. Both drivers are capable of race wins and podiums every weekend and this is our aim."
Leal finished in a lonely fifth place ahead of Richelmi who had continued to successfully fend off the attention of Evans for sixth place, while series new boy Sorensen successfully picked up the final points position - his second points finish of his début weekend in GP2.
As for the battle for the final podium place, Palmer appeared to slightly back off in his attack on Cecotto in the final laps, doubtless mindful of the need to prioritise safely picking up championship points rather than risk crashing out. After finishing in fourth place behind the Venezualan, Palmer's lead now stands at 38 points over Nasr with Cecotto a further 11 points back in third. In the team standings, Carlin have closed up to within 12 points of DAMS.
The next GP2 event - marking the 200th race in the series - is in two weeks time at the Hockenheimring in Germany.See full Sunday GP2 sprint race 2 results