Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Jules Bianchi claimed a vital GP2 win to start his Asia Series campaign in perfect style.
Bianchi beat polesitter Romain Grosjean off the line at the start of the Abu Dhabi evening race, and withstood intense pressure from his fellow Frenchman throughout the race.
Grosjean's DAMS team brought him in for his mandatory stop a lap earlier than Bianchi's ART squad, and what could have been an inspired decision fell flat when Grosjean was slow away, which condemned him to following the incoming Max Chilton down the pit lane.
Both Charles Pic and Fabio Leimer left their stops until late as fears over the longevity of the Pirelli tires proved unfounded, but once they finally pitted Bianchi and Grosjean had a straight fight to the flag. A series of fastest laps from Bianchi broke Grosjean's resolve and his victory was secured. Davide Valsecchi had a quiet run to third, a brilliant return for the AirAsia team on its debut.
iSport's Marcus Ericsson stole fourth from Addax's Giedo van der Garde on the final lap of a race than ran to time rather than its full distance due to a huge accident at the start. Dani Clos stalled on the line and his Racing Engineering car was hit at full pelt by AirAsia's Luis Razia, who was briefly launched into the air. Pal Varhaug (DAMS) was also eliminated in the chaos, from which all three drivers emerged unscathed.
Josef Kral was sixth for Arden, Sam Bird (iSport) seventh and Chilton (Carlin) eighth, which gave him reversed-grid pole for tomorrow. However, he passed Trident driver Stefano Coletti for the place by cutting the chicane so could well be penalized.