Sam Bird won round seven of the GP2 Series in Monaco, his second victory of the season with the Russian Time team, but required a new rear wing to do so having been savaged in the chaotic initial start.
The race was marred by a first-corner pile-up that involved 14 cars and took out polesitter Johnny Cecotto Jr. (who sparked the chaos himself) as well as frontrunners Fabio Leimer, Jolyon Palmer, Robin Frijns, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi. The event was red-flagged with nine of those cars unable to restart.
The restart took place under the safety car, with Mitch Evans up front in his Arden entry. Bird, in his repaired car after taking a big hit from Kevin Ceccon at the first start, was right on Evans's case from the green flag on lap two.
Evans had switched to the super-soft tire during the red flag, and it was clearly a struggle to keep Bird, on the softs, at bay. Evans did so, however, keeping the Briton behind him before pitting on lap 13. His strategy meant he had to change all four tires to the soft compound, whereas when Bird pitted four laps later he only had to change his soft rears.
Evans's slower stop meant that Ceccon, who had a new front wing fitted during the red flag, managed to jump him after opting for an early pit stop. But with Rene Binder taking a long first stint running second on the road, Ceccon was never able to glimpse a view of Bird, who scampered away to win by 22s as he added a GP2 Monaco win to last year's Formula Renault 3.5 triumph in Monte Carlo.
Bird's only scare came when he clipped the curb exiting Portier soon after his stop, his car fishtailing perilously closely to the guardrail.
Ceccon came under pressure for second from Evans in the closing stages, but pulled away as Evans needed to keep an eye on Felipe Nasr, who had detached himself from a fight with James Calado. Nasr had one eye on the points race, however, closing the gap to leader Stefano Coletti to 15 with his fourth place.
Coletti finished sixth, ahead of Binder (a fine run after restarting 15th), while Adrian Quaife-Hobbs pulled off a last-lap move on Stephane Richelmi to grab reversed-grid pole position for Saturday's sprint race.
Results - 42 laps (inc red flag delay):
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Sam Bird Russian Time 1h36m15.919s
2. Kevin Ceccon Trident + 22.077s
3. Mitch Evans Arden + 23.225s
4. Felipe Nasr Carlin + 23.416s
5. James Calado ART + 29.588s
6. Stefano Coletti Rapax + 1m00.519s
7. Rene Binder Lazarus + 1m02.449s
8. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP + 1m08.400s
9. Stephane Richelmi DAMS + 1m12.107s
10. Daniel de Jong MP + 1m22.410s
11. Tom Dillmann Russian Time + 1m29.356s
12. Jon Lancaster Hilmer + 1 lap
13. Simon Trummer Rapax + 1 lap
14. Jake Rosenzweig Addax + 1 lap
15. Sergio Canamasas Caterham + 2 laps
16. Daniel Abt ART + 2 laps
Rio Haryanto Addax 26 laps
Johnny Cecotto Jr Arden 0 laps*
Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 0 laps*
Jolyon Palmer Carlin 0 laps*
Julian Leal Racing Engineering 0 laps*
Robin Frijns Hilmer 0 laps*
Marcus Ericsson DAMS 0 laps*
Alexander Rossi Caterham 0 laps*
Nathanael Berthon Trident 0 laps*
Kevin Giovesi Lazarus 0 laps*
* Did not take restart