Antonio Giovinazzi has taken an extraordinary double win the Baku round of the GP2 Series after battling his way up from last position in a chaotic sprint race headlined by three carnage-inducing safety car restarts.

The Italian had already survived a dramatic feature race to notch up his maiden win for Prema Racing, but an issue that left him last of all on the opening lap of the sprint race would make any prospect of double seemingly impossible.

However, mid-race mayhem twice prompted by long-time leader Nobuharu Matsushita as he fluffed safety car restarts would create carnage that would allow Giovinazzi to make up significant ground before passing Pierre Gasly on the very lap to snatch victory.

Indeed, Matsushita - a sprint race winner already this year at Monaco - had looked a strong bet for victory after getting a good getaway from third place to take the lead from Daniel de Jong, Mitch Evans and Oliver Rowland, the field negotiating a largely trouble-free opening portion compared with race one.

However, the race would begin to turn when the safety car was called for the first time on lap seven to clear Jimmy Erikson's Arden car after he was turned around by Jordan King. With Matsushita getting the hammer down too early at the restart and very nearly catching the safety car before it had peeled off course - forcing him to ease off -, it would create three-abreast for the lead into turn one.

With de Jong - along with several other drivers - out-braking themselves after failing to warm their brakes enough, Matsushita remarkably emerged unscathed and still in the lead, with ART team-mate Sergey Sirotkin getting past Oliver Rowland after he failed to make his pass into T1 stick.

However, the race would last just one more lap before the safety car was called again to remove the spun Trident car of Philo Paz Armand. With Matsushita dictating the pace and seemingly keen to avoid a repeat of his first safety car misdemeanour, he slowed right down, only to apparently speed up before unexpectedly braking whilst weaving again.

With the drivers behind taking the cue to speed up as his final move, the field surged forward only to have to react to the Japanese driver's unfathomable deceleration. With cars scattering behind him, causing plenty of contact, the disparate speeds on the run to turn one would prompt a pile up that would eliminate Evans, Sean Gelael and Gustav Malja, while Rowland was tipped into a spin and Sirotkin - who was directly behind Matsushita at the time - lost ground.

Remarkably, Matsushita retained the lead, but with the safety car out for a third time to clear the turn one carnage he'd ultimately caused, all eyes were on him to see whether he could nail it this time. Perhaps ironically, it was Matsushita that would be the one to lose out, Raffaele Marciello punting him off track at turn one as they restarted, forcing him out of the race and prompting cheers from his eliminated rivals in the pit lane.

With most of the initial front runners out or delayed, it was somehow Gasly that found himself out front despite having started 18th, while Giovinazzi had worked his way up to second in the melee following his early delays.

With Red Bull-backed driver Gasly seeking his maiden GP2 win, his cause looked to be aided by team-mate Giovinazzi not having the benefit of DRS down the home straight due to a malfunction. However, the Italian would maintain the pressure and when Gasly out-braked himself into turn one on the final lap, the rookie driver pounced to complete an unlikely win.

The first driver to score a GP2 double since Davide Valsecchi in 2012, the result also marks a landmark 1-2 or the Prema outfit.

Recovering positions in the closing stages after his Matsushita-prompted delay, a double podium does Sirotkin's title hopes a significant service on a weekend where the erstwhile championship front runners struggled to post notable results in the carnage.

King finished fourth but is under investigation for his incident with Erikson, with Artem Markelov and Sergio Canamasas surviving to secure the remaining points in fifth and sixth.



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