19 September 2009
Hulkenberg eases to Portimao victory
Nico Hulkenberg cemented his status as the dominant force in this year's GP2 Series by cruising to a fifth win of the season at Portimao.
The German driver leapfrogged early leader Vitaly Petrov through the pit stops before shrugging off a late safety car period to come home almost ten seconds ahead of fellow podium winners Luca Filippi and Lucas di Grassi.
Getting a good start from third on the grid, Hulkenberg made the most of front row sitter Dani Clos' wheel-spinning getaway to slot in behind Petrov, while di Grassi held third, Roldan Rodriguez fourth and Clos fifth.
As expected, the tight first turn caused a casualty in Edoardo Mortara, the Italian coming off worse in a collision with Javier Villa after an over ambitious lunge into the side of the Super Nova car. Johnny Cecotto Jr was also caught out and forced into retirement, prompting a short safety car period.
At the restart, Hulkenberg launched his attack on Petrov, tucking beneath the Russian down the lengthy home straight to briefly scramble through, only for him to run wide and allow his rival back through again.
However, with Hulkenberg evidently the quicker of the two drivers, the ART team showed its hand when they hauled him in for his stop relatively early. However, the measure of the early stop advantage was being highlighted by Filippi, the Italian having been the first driver to take his stop before very nearly overhauling Hulkenberg, despite running down in tenth early on.
Prompting a flurry of pit activity, although Petrov came in for his mandatory stop soon afterwards, he could only re-emerge in an effective fourth place, behind Hulkenberg, Filippi and di Grassi.
Regaining the lead on lap 24 when long-time leaders Michael Herck and Luiz Razia eventually made their respective pit-stops, Hulkenberg didn't have time to establish a margin over the chasing pack when the safety car was deployed again, this time to clear the stranded cars of Alvaro Parente and Sergio Perez, the pair becoming entangled at the first turn as they disputed a points' paying position.
At the restart, Hulkenberg quickly got the hammer down to put distance between himself and Filippi, the Super Nova driver beginning to suffer somewhat from his early stop.
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