One thing was in no doubt after Sunday morning's GP2 sprint race, and that is the coronation of ART's Stoffel Vandoorne as the 2015 series champion.

Vandoorne mathematically secured the title despite finishing off the podium in fourth place, as he was still able to cross the line two places ahead of his only remaining challenger for the crown, Racing Engineering's Alexander Rossi.

It was left to Status Grand Prix's Richie Stanaway to take the chequered flag having led the race from the very first corner, but he slowed on the penultimate lap and was passed by Campos Racing's Rio Haryanto just as a late safety car was deployed meaning that the result will have to be reviewed by the race stewards before the Kiwi's second GP2 win can be officially confirmed.

CLICK: Full GP2 sprint race 2 results from Sochi Autodrom.

Having finished eighth in the feature race, it had been Campos Racing's Arthur Pic who claimed pole for this weekend's sprint race with Stanaway lining up next to him at the front, while row 2 consisted of Trident's Raffaele Marciello alongside Pic's team mate Rio Haryanto. At the back of the running order in a new chassis after his Saturday crash was Racing Engineering's Jordan King had been required to start from pit lane after being penalised for his turn 2 collision with Marlon Stockinger (Status) at the start of yesterday's race.

When the lights went out, everyone was able to get away from the grid but Pic's start hadn't been as rapid as hoped for and he ended up going into the first turn three-wide with Stanaway and Marciello. First blood went to Stanaway who managed to claimed the lead, but Pic then attempted to counter attack into turn 2 only to run wide along with Marciello, allowing Stanaway to retain the position and Haryanto to take up the chase in second.

In fact the same corner saw a mass run-off by virtually every car, as the field was forced to take avoiding action when Rapax's Sergey Sirotkin punted Dean Stoneman into a spin at the apex. Rene Binder tried to check up in the MP Motorsport to avoid running into the stricken Carlin only to end up being mounted from the rear by the unsighted Status Grand Prix of Marlon St?ckinger, and the resulting mess triggered an immediate safety car to enable the stacked cars to be retrieved.

Stanaway continued to lead from Haryanto when the race restarted on lap 3, with Pic in third followed by Pierre Gasly (DAMS), Marciello, Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi (Racing Engineering) with Johnny Cecotto Jr. (Trident) rounding out the points-paying positions.

Gasly was pushing hard - too hard it turned out, the DAMS cutting a corner on lap 4 and getting briefly launched into the air. Although the French driver was able to control the car, he inevitably lost momentum from his brief hang time and dropped two places behind Marciello and Vandoorne. Crucially in championship terms he inserted himself back into the running order ahead of Vandoorne's only remaining rival for the 2015 championship, Saturday race winner Rossi.

Stanaway was doing a fine job at the front and had pulled out two seconds over Haryanto, while Pic himself was now coming under heavy fire for third from Marciello. Pic was initially able to fight off the first major assault on lap 5, but two laps later the Italian was able to force his advantage and claim the podium spot. That left Pic with his hands full from Vandoorne who was determined to clinch the title today in style if he possibly could; sure enough, Vandoorne found his way past Pic in turn 7 to take over fourth place, and now the hunt was on to put himself onto the podium which he set about with an immediate new fastest lap of the race.

Knowing that the Belgian had more to lose in terms of the championship than he did, Marciello was able to be more robust and risk-taking in his defence of third place and repeatedly fended off Vandoorne's feints despite the ART having the advantage of DRS at the key overtaking points. The sustained battle between the pair drove them right up to the back wing of the momentarily waning Haryanto who had dropped four seconds away from the runaway race leader Stanaway; however neither Marciello nor Vandoorne was able to take advantage of the new situation and a period of deadlock ensued until the Campos car found its second wind and pulled away again from the duel.

Vandoorne's only hope now was to pressure Marciello into a mistake, and that came with a lock-up on lap 18 that left the Trident with a flat-spotted tyre. Almost immediately however Vandoorne had a mishap of his own as he drifted wide, allowing Gasly to close right up in fifth place. Securing fourth place - and with it the title - now became Vandoorne's primary concern.

With Haryanto dramatically eating into Stanaway's lead it looked as though the race was coming to a thrilling climax, but then Cecotto flew off into a heavy impact with the barriers in turn 3 to trigger a second safety car on the penultimate lap of the race. In the confusion, Haryanto had taken the lead as Stanaway slowed and there was a big question mark over who exactly should be credited with the victory: Stanaway took the position back to cross the line in first place but the matter will doubtless go to the stewards for confirmation.

Cecotto's accident had frozen the battle for the final podium place in Marciello's favour with Vandoorne having to settle for fourth ahead of Gasly who himself faces a post-race investigation for overtaking under the first safety car period. Rossi held on to sixth place ahead of a storming run from Nobuharu Matsushita in the second ART claiming his first points since his win in the Hungary sprint race before the summer break.

Pole sitter Pic dropped to eighth to claim the final points-paying position after running off the track at turn 13 on lap 15. Just missing out were Russian Time's Mitch Evans and Arden's Norman Nato who rounded out the top ten. After his costly retirement in the feature race, DAMS' Alex Lynn was only able to climb to 11th place on Sunday morning

Jordan King made some progress from his pit lane start to finish in 16th place, while Dean Stoneman had been able to resume after being caught up in that first lap incident and ended up crossing the line in 17th ahead of Rapax's Robert Visoiu who had been handed a five second penalty for exceeding track limits during the race. Visoiu finished one place ahead of Lazarus' Nathana?l Berthon who made a late pit stop for fresh tyres and duly set the fastest lap of the race as a result; Sirotkin ended up 20th after being forced to pit for a new front wing at the end of the first lap, and Carlin's Sean Gelael was the last man running on track after stalling at the start.

While the winner of the race might be somewhat controversial and potentially still in doubt pending a post-race investigation, there was no question that Stoffel Vandoorne had done enough to put the title battle beyond doubt. The McLaren test and development driver joins the likes of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer as GP2 Series champion.

Although the drivers' title battle has been wrapped up, there will still be plenty of glory for everyone to contend for in the final two rounds of the season at Bahrain on 19-21 November and the following weekend at Abu Dhabi on 27-29 November.

See full GP2 sprint race 2 results from Sochi Autodrom.


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