CLICK: Full GP2 sprint race 2 results from Abu Dhabi

Stefano Coletti clinched the final race win of the 2014 GP2 Series championship at Abu Dhabi after taking control of the proceedings in the first corner, leaving Carlin's Felipe Nasr and ART's Stoffel Vandoorne in a tense battle to decide between themselves which of the pair would finally clinch the runners-up spot in the championship behind the already-crowned title winner Jolyon Palmer.

The matter had come down to one final duel between McLaren's reserve F1 driver Vandoorne starting from eighth place and current Williams test driver Nasr (who will be racing for Sauber F1 in 2015) who was one row ahead in fifth place on the grid. The Belgian driver held a nine point lead over the Brazilian coming into the race, but as the GP3 race earlier in the day had shown all too well, no one could start counting any chickens until the very moment the chequered flag came out for the last time this season.

Back racing in the bright desert daylight at Yas Marina Circuit after the series' first-ever night time feature race the day before, pole sitter Arthur Pic nearly completely squandered his opportunity for what would be a second race win of the year when he momentarily appeared to stall getting underway for the formation lap. Finally the Campos Racing car jerked into action before the entire field had streamed past him, allowing him to retake his pole position alongside Racing Engineering's Stefano Coletti in time for the lights to go out.

Pic got a good start off the grid but threw his Campos Racing car hard left across the front of the field to deter any challengers, almost putting himself into the pit lane wall in his efforts to prevent the DAMS of Stephane Richelmi from sneaking through into the lead before the first corner. However, Pic's aggressive efforts only ended up opening the door for Coletti to sweep past on the outside to take the lead, albeit running briefly off the track in the process. He was far from alone in so doing, and the race stewards were disinclined to risk having to penalise half the field and so no action was taken.

Pic initially held on to second place but he was then passed by a flying Nasr as the pair battled through the chicane at the end of the backstraight on the first lap. Nasr's gain was significant in terms of the championship standings, as Vandoorne had made little progress in the opening lap and was trailing around in seventh place - his one gain in position being thanks to 2014 champion Jolyon Palmer spinning out under braking on lap 1 while trying to avoid ploughing into the back of Mitch Evans' Russian Time. That left Vandoorne as the car now stuck behind Evans, and there was also the serious problem of Pic, Johnny Cecotto Jr. (Trident) and Richelmi also being between himself and Nasr, the Brazilian now running two seconds behind the race leader Coletti.

Vandoorne duly punched in some fastest laps, but none of it fazed Evans who continued to hold on to the vital sixth place that Vandoorne desperately needed if he was to hold on to the runners-up position if Nasr were to finish in second place. Vandoorne also faced a growing threat from behind, as Coletti's team mate Raffaele Marciello started to loom large in the Belgian's rear view mirrors. However for the time being everyone was content to play the waiting game and resisted the temptation to make any rash moves, preferring instead to wait until nearer the end of the 22-lap race when tyre degradation would make for greater disparity in performance between the different cars and to hopefully allow some genuine overtaking opportunities to evolve naturally rather than forcing the issue prematurely.

By lap 16 Coletti's lead was up to three seconds over Nasr with Pic, Cecotto, Richelmi and Evans still on front of Vandoorne and Marciello. Vandoorne had appeared to back off and had fallen three seconds behind Evans in his efforts to preserve his own tyres, but with six laps remaining the Belgian leapt into action and set the fastest lap of the race so far, at a stroke halving the gap to the Russian Time car. If he could hold on to the bonus points for the best lap of the race then seventh would now be enough to see him clinch the runners-up spot in the championship, but it was an awfully fragile and tenuous advantage he currently held that could disappear at any moment. In any case, it certainly put the pressure on Nasr either to reciprocate with an even faster lap, or to make a serious move on Coletti for the outright race win.

Among the leaders, the first to show signs of tyre degradation becoming a major problem was Cecotto, and he was passed by both Richelmi and Evans in a single three-wide move, only for the DAMS and Russian Time to both overrun the chicane that followed. Evans handed the position back to avoid a penalty but Richelmi took the contrary view, put his foot down and raced off into the distance now in fourth place. Inevitably it led to a post-race investigation by the race stewards, who duly handed Richelmi a 20s penalty in lieu of a drive-thru for gaining an advantage by exceeding track limits, which dropped Richelmi out of the points in the final classification, with Trident's Sergio Canamasas promoted into the points as everyone was shuffled up a place.

Cecotto's pace was falling off further by the second and Evans was soon underneath and around the Trident to take fifth place. That left Cecotto in Vandoorne's crosshairs, and there was a sense of inevitability in the way Vandoorne soon managed to get the power down and pass the Venezuelan for sixth place, giving him the crucial position he needed to thwart Nasr in their championship battle. Nasr responded with one last desperate throw of the dice with his own bid for the bonus points for fastest lap, but he was unable to pull it off and when he crossed the line in second place almost four seconds behind race winner Coletti, he knew that the runners-up spot in the drivers championship had eluded him by just three points.

Meanwhile Coletti cared little for such championship business and was simply savouring his second win of the season and his seventh in 86 starts in the GP2 series ever since he made his bow at Valencia in 2009. Whether the 25-year-old Monegasque will be back in the feeder series again in 2015 is unknown, and with Nasr off to F1 for sure next season it means that only the third man on the podium - Arthur Pic - is assured of being back in a GP2 car next season.

But such concerns are four months and several winter testing sessions away. In the meantime Jolyon Palmer can celebrate the title despite a disappointing end to his year with only his second DNF of the season, while Vandoorne takes the runners-up position which just might hasten his promotion into F1 where he can resume his on track battles with Nasr again in the hopefully very near future.

See full GP2 sprint race 2 results from Abu Dhabi

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