Team France took their 13th victory in the A1 Grand Prix after a faultless run in the Feature race where Alex Premat ran untroubled to take his second victory of the day.

Premat made a perfect start whilst Neel Jani in the Swiss car alongside meant the Frenchman could make an early getaway. Jos Verstappen from fourth place on the grid had made a good start and despite the slower starting Jani ahead was able to gain the advantage from Italy's Enrico Toccacelo to slot into third place.

With no incidents on the first lap teams readied for early stops with France leading the way for a rapid influx of cars, including the Team Ireland car which had only just made it into the race following its Sprint race woes.

If the Sprint race was off to a frantic start with incidents on the first lap and then even under the safety car then the Feature race was a far more restrained affair. The pitstops were when the most places were made and the Netherlands car made a later stop than France and Switzerland with the Racing for Holland crew performing superbly to put Verstappen out well ahead of Switzerland and right with Premat.

The French car was soon off into the distance however and Verstappen was unable to offer any retort, although he was comfortably clear of the Swiss car behind. The only hope for a change at the front would be a safety car incident and sure enough, one was served up.

Christian Jones in his second race for Team Australia was an innocent victim of a misjudged move by Ananda Mikola in the Team Indonesia car and the stricken Fosters sponsored car brought about the safety car with a dozen or so laps to go. Premat, with the DAMS-run French car in dominant mode had made a gap of over five seconds from Verstappen, but the Dutchman had eight PowerBoosts to go whilst Premat, who had looked a little ragged on occasion when making away from the Dutchman earlier.

The restart was clean however and Premat was off into the distance once more, with Verstappen seemingly not making use of his car's PowerBoosts and the extra 30bhp burst they give until the penultimate lap when he closed the gap somewhat, but never to challenge the Tricolore car.

"The race was fun, and the car was quite good,' said Premat. "We changed quite a lot in the break after the Sprint race. We got the fastest lap as well which is nice. After the safety car it was really close so I had to push quite hard which was difficult with the tyres as I had no grip."

"After France pitted early we were pushing really hard, as were Switzerland I think," added Verstappen. "But it is difficult to overtake here and we have to be happy with second. This season we have been really good at pit stops and today's was fantastic too. I think we missed taking the lead by about half a second. It was very close with Alex after the pit stop. We have done really well to finish second, when we came here on Friday it was really difficult for us, and we have got better and better over the weekend."

In his final A1 drive, Switzerland's Neel Jani completed the podium.

"First of all I would like to thank the team, I've had a great time this season," said Jani. "The start today was OK, I took second and was able to put pressure on France pretty much straight away. Our pit stop was good too, but in the end we didn't improve the car enough in between the two races, as the other teams did."

Though the front end was relatively settled for much of the race, behind there was plenty of action to keep the fans entertained although the local car of Salvador Duran had only just made it into the race, with a number of laps already started, and the British F3 driver had also an extra pitstop to fix errant bodywork on his car which had been involved in an early incident in the Sprint race.

Top ten
1. France Alex Premat
2. Netherlands Jos Verstappen
3. Switzerland Neel Jani
4. Germany Timo Scheider
5. Italy Enrico Toccacelo
6. Great Britain Robbie Kerr
7. Czech Republic Tomas Enge
8. New Zealand Matt Halliday
9. Austria Patrick Friesacher
10. Portugal Alvaro Parente

 

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