Nico Hulkenberg has become the first GP2 Series driver to win a race under floodlights as he swept to victory in only his second outing at Losail.
The German made headlines on his debut last time out in Bahrain when he claimed pole position on his debut, a feat he would repeat around the Qatari circuit. However, while he faded to fourth place on that occasion, the German made amends this time by dominating once he had assumed the lead.
The first victory of the season for ART Grand Prix, winners last season with Romain Grosjean, Hulkenberg had only a tardy start and an early safety car period to stutter his progress as he came home a dominant 13secs winner over fellow GP2 rookie Sergio Perez.
The start of the race had been marred by a spectacular accident involving Sakon Yamamoto and Yelmer Buurman, caused when the former stalled for the second race in succession. However, while everyone avoided his stricken car in Bahrain, Buurman, who had started 23rd compared Yamamoto's sixth, was less fortunate and collided with the stricken ART driver at considerable speed.
Once the race restarted, it was Perez that led the way early on, ahead of the fast-starting Javier Villa, although the Spaniard's leap from seventh to second would be punished with a stop-go penalty later in the race.
Despite his slow getaway, Hulkenberg's tactic to preserve his tyres – which he failed to do in Bahrain – was paying dividends mid-race to the point that when others began pitting, he upped his pace considerably.
Displaying phenomenal speed, Hulkenberg pitted later than the majority of his rivals and in doing so emerged from his mandatory pit-stop clutching a lead of almost ten seconds over Vitaly Petrov, who had leapfrogged his Campos team-mate Perez through the pit-stops too.
The Mexican driver was not to be denied though, snatching second off the more experienced Russian to record his second straight podium position.
Still, with a 13secs margin between himself and winner Hulkenberg, there was no doubting who had been the star driver. A fine performance in only his third GP2 start, Hulkenberg is already up to third position in the standings.
The lead of the championship remains firmly in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, who endured a quieter than usual race as he followed Perez and Petrov home in fourth position. However, with his closest title rival, Davide Valsecchi, finishing just behind in sixth, he has extended his advantage to 12 points.
Between them was Kobayashi's DAMS team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio, up from tenth position on the grid, while Edoardo Mortara and Luiz Razia rounded out the points to ensure Arden lock out the front row for the sprint race.