From sixteenth place on the grid following throwing away a certain second place in the Sprint race of the A1 Grand Prix, Jos Verstappen for Team Netherlands took an emotional victory in South Africa at the Durban street circuit.

Verstappen benefited from a fantastic start taking him to tenth place by the first corner, then the Dutch team worked another brilliant pit strategy, taking full advantage of a safety car period to put the former F1 driver out in fourth place.

Verstappen lost position to Portugal's Alvaro Parente, but made it back and sat in fourth, with Team Germany's Timo Scheider, Team Switzerland's Neel Jani and the very late stopping Nelson Piquet for Team Brazil up ahead.

Piquet pitted, Schneider made contact with the wall, then Jani faltered on the final lap to allow Verstappen to make a move very much like the one that didn't come off in the Sprint race, although it was assisted by Jani's car's woes.

"I'm very happy," said a jubilant Verstappen after tasting the victory champagne. "I had a fantastic start, and was battling with people all the way through. Both I and Alvaro made mistakes but I managed to get past and stay ahead, then Germany went into the wall and I know Brazil still had to pit."

Verstappen also made reference to the move he made in the Sprint race, which ended very differently. "In the Sprint race second position was good, but I tried to overtake and it didn't work out as I wanted," he understated. "This time I was in the same position, and Neel was running wide. I used my PowerBoost and managed to overtake. I'm really pleased for the guys because they worked very hard and the fans as well.

"It was quite tough to come here with a new mechanic and a new race engineer, there were quite a few things different, but right from the start when I got in the car, it felt good here and I felt confident."

Jani in the Swiss car found that his Lola wasn't quite running in the manner of his country's wrist-based timing implements.

"It looks like we always have problems in the race, I had no brakes at all in the last few laps," he said. "What can I say? For sure I am disappointed; we lost in Dubai through bad strategy and here through brake failure. I'm not too happy. Out of the last six races we could have won five. When you have made a mistake it is bad enough but when it isn't your fault it is even worse. I probably won't sleep very much tonight."

Team Portugal's Alvaro Parente had a strong race, the reigning British F3 champion worked his way from fifteenth place in qyualifying to eighth in the Sprint race, and then took third in the Feature race.

"I'm very pleased, especially after qualifying," said the modest Portuguese driver. "We had really good pace in free practice and qualifying was a disappointment. I attacked the Sprint race and managed to finish eighth, a good position for the start of the Feature race. It was an interesting fight and overtaking is hard on a street track like this. It's great to have so many people watching the race, thanks to the crowd for their support. I'm delighted for the team who have worked really hard. Now we have to work for a win."

Team New Zealand with Matt Halliday on driving duties was another team which impressed on the streets of Durban, with the Kiwi working his way perfectly through the traffic and the WSR squad making a good call on the pitstop.

Team France with Alex Premat suffered a bad pit stop, as did Team Brazil with its late stop. Team Great Britain with Robbie Kerr in action suffered from their pitstop too, although not with the usual sticking wheel nut scenario, rather with Kerr exiting and carrying an airline behind him, the impact wrench having lodged itself in the Lola chassis.

The Feature race was one full of incident and with numerous safety car periods.

Top ten
1. Team Netherlands
2. Team Switzerland
3. Team Portugal
4. Team New Zealand
5. Team South Africa
6. Team Italy
7. Team France
8. Team Austria
9. Team Brazil
10. Team Canada

 

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