13 November 2010
Perez dominates Abu Dhabi feature race
Sergio Perez ended the debate over who would finish as runner-up to new champion Pastor Maldonado with a crushing win at Yas Marina.
Sergio Perez crushed his rivals with an unmatched display of speed on his way to a dominant win in Saturday's feature race in Abu Dhabi, securing second place in the championship as a result.
The Mexican, who has already inked a deal to race for Sauber in F1 next season, easily led the way home, taking the chequered flag over 20 seconds ahead of Britons Oliver Turvey and Sam Bird.
Perez's victory was set up as the lights went out. Polesitter Turvey bogged down slightly as he got away, allowing the Barwa Addax driver an easy path into the lead at turn one. Turvey's iSport team-mate Davide Valsecchi was also slow to get away, handing Romain Grosjean a simple route through to P4, which improved by one when Fabio Leimer and Turvey touched wheels at the first corner, with the Swiss driver coming off worse.
Further back, Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi, two of six drivers handed ten-place grid penalties after qualifying, came together too, with the Dutchman left stranded on the outside of turn one. When Adrian Zaugg was tipped into a spin a few corners later, there was no choice but to bring out the safety car.
Despite the interrupted opening lap, others had made lightning starts, with Bird, another punished after qualifying, lying in tenth after an incredible start from P18. When ART team-mate Bianchi and Max Chilton came together one lap after the restart, the Briton was up to an amazing sixth, and the French squad made a sharp call for him to pit on lap six to see if he could take further advantage of strategy.
Back on track, Luiz Razia was pushing Grosjean hard for third, while Dani Clos and Valsecchi were squabbling over the positions behind as the Spaniard also took advantage of a good start having been demoted from second overnight. The pit call for Bird, meanwhile, proved to be the right one, with his rivals losing time fighting as the Briton flew in clear air after his stop. Razia, Valsecchi and Clos stopped together on lap nine, with Bird slotting in ahead of the Spaniard before a left rear tyre problem during Grosjean's stop a lap later gave the ART man another free position.
At the front of the field, Perez sailed serenely on, with Turvey unable to challenge and stopping for fresh rubber in an effort to close the gap. Perez finally came in on lap twelve, with champion-elect Pastor Maldonado the only man running longer after having to come from well down the order. However, with a message from the stewards confirming that the Venezuelan was going to have to take a drive-thru' penalty, thee was no chance that he would be in the fight for points.
A clearly annoyed Maldonado left his stops until the last few laps, but Perez wasn't waiting around, reclaiming the lead on track on lap 18. While he was away and gone, Turvey drove a strong race for second, but the battle for third was only just beginning.
Razia and Valsecchi's races started to unravel under the harsh sun as they were unable to contain the pace of Bird and Clos, and it was that pair that squabbled over the final podium position, with the Briton holding on by less than a second. Valsecchi managed to cling on to fifth ahead of a fast-charging Grosjean, with Razia just hanging on in front of Sunday's poleman Josef Kral, who secured a splendid P8 on his return to the series after serious back injuries sustained in Valencia.
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