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Valsecchi makes it look easy again in Bahrain

Calado's more experienced team mate Esteban Gutiérrez didn't have a great time of it either. Starting from 13th place, he was soon suffering from excessive understeer that put increasing strain on his rear tyres that made any forward movement through the pack a tough ask. He ended up losing position to the likes of Racing Engineering's Nathanael Berthon on lap 15, although the enthusiastic Berthon then ended up coming a cropper trying exactly the same move next time round on Fabrizio Crestani, which spun the Frenchman out and cost him seven positions that he mostly clawed back over the second half of the race.

After the mandatory pit stops, Gutiérrez then took up the battle for tenth place with Crestani and finally managed to take the position on lap 19 - only to have his moment of triumph soured by Felipa Nasr managing to flash past both of them in a single action as the cars ahead tussled, in what was the move of the day for the DAMS rookie. Crestani himself would subsequently hit problems and ended up retiring in pit lane after haemorrhaging positions, and as a result Gutiérrez ended up one spot out of the points in 11th by the finish.

Ricardo Teixeira suffered front wing damage on lap 4 with an ill-considered lunge down the inside of Ocean Racing's Brendon Hartley and was duly served a drive-thru penalty for causing the collision on the first place. Jolyon Palmer is also likely to be talking with the stewards for an unnecessarily hard last-lap defence against Gonzalez, despite the fact that Palmer had himself already been lapped by that stage of the proceedings after having been dismally off the pace all afternoon. Stefano Coletti also had a tough day of it, spinning out of turn 1 at the start and labouring long and hard before coming into the pits before taking the chequered flag.

For the rest of the field it was a case of nursing home the cars and rubber without doing anything silly. Most of them just about made it, but the most high-profile struggle to do so belonged to iSport's Marcus Ericsson, who after that fabulous start to claim fourth place was now finding his tyres absolutely wasted and refusing to do even normal things required of it - like steering into even medium-speed corners without sliding off.

Razia, Chilton, Haryanto and a now-flying Nasr all got past while Ericsson's car seemed to be obsessively seeking a place to have a race-ending accident, but Ericsson just about managed to keep it on the island long enough to crawl home in eighth place, which would give him pole position of the sprint race under the reversed grid system alongside Nasr on Saturday. Dillmann was also suffering and losing positions by this point, but Johnny Cecotto Jr. ran out of time to pounce on either of them before the end and had to settle instead for the final points position of the day. Gutiérrez' 11th place saw him finish just ahead of the recovering Berthon.

However, post-race penalties shook that up when Nasr, Gonzalez and Crestani were all penalised for ignoring yellow flags early in the race. The simulated drive-thru penalties the trio incurred (adding 20s to their final times) meant that Nasr dropped to 11th and Gonzalez to 18th, while Crestani - having retired from the race - was handed a five-place grid place penalty for the sprint race that will see him start from the back. After all that, Ericsson loses pole but stays on the front row for Saturday alongside new pole man Tom Dillmann.

While the podium trio had never really been in doubt, it had been a thoroughly entertaining race. It's just a shame that it appeared no one had told prospective spectators, because the start/finish grandstand was conspicuously empty and there was a deathly silence up and down pit road as soon as the engines were switched off, the anthems had been played and the faux-champagne had fizzled.

Full race results, times and positions available.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Giedo Van der Garde (NED, Caterham Racing) on track in Bahrain [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service.]
Giedo Van der Garde (NED, Caterham Racing) on track in Bahrain [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service.]
Fabio Leimer (SUI, Racing Engineering) during day 3 of GP2 testing at Jerez. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/ GP2 Series Media Service]
Davide Valsecchi (ITA, Dams) celebrates his victory in the Saturday feature race at Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. 21st April. [World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/GP2 Media Service.]
Davide Valsecchi during testing at Jerez, Spain. February 2012. [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/ GP2 Series Media Service.]
Davide Valsecchi (ITA, Dams) celebrates his victory on the podium with Fabio Leimer (SUI, Racing Engineering) and Giedo Van der Garde (NED, Caterham Racing). [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service.]
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Norman Nato, Bahrain F2 2017, Formula 2
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, Formula 2, 2017
Nabil Jeffri, Team Trident [Credit: Team Trident]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]

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