Esteban Gutierrez won the GP2 Series feature race at Silverstone on Saturday, after long-time leader Fabio Leimer failed to pit before a safety car, an error that wiped out his huge advantage and turned a potential victory into a 15th-place finish.
Leimer led away from pole in a race started under the safety car due to soaking wet conditions. After six laps under the safety car, during which Daniel de Jong (Rapax) managed to crash into the back of Rodolfo Gonzalez (Caterham), Leimer pulled out a huge lead in his Racing Engineering machine.
Leimer was nine seconds in front when the safety car was deployed again to recover James Calado's stricken Lotus GP car, which appeared to suffer a loose right-front wheel following its pitstop, at Farm on lap 18.
All of Leimer's rivals had pitted by this point, but for some reason he did not. Any chance he had of extending his lead again, before making his mandatory stop, was extinguished by a third safety car to recover Stefano Coletti's Coloni car, which had crashed on slicks at Chapel.
This opened the door for Gutierrez to inherit the victory, as he had jumped ahead of both Addax driver Johnny Cecotto Jr and iSport's Jolyon Palmer during the pitstop cycle. All of the front-running cars went for two more wet tyres during the stops, although the track was drying towards the end.
"Strategy played a big role in this race," said Gutierrez. "I focused on not making a mistake. I'm really happy and grateful for this victory."
Cecotto finished second ahead of Palmer, while Nigel Melker produced some late-race heroics in his Ocean-run machine to hold off new points leader Luiz Razia (Arden).
Erstwhile points leader Davide Valsecchi went for a bold early pit stop strategy, which helped him up to seventh from his lowly starting position. He finished just behind DAMS teammate Felipe Nasr.
Results - 25 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus 1h00m22.657s
2. Johnny Cecotto Addax + 1.700s
3. Jolyon Palmer iSport + 5.257s
4. Nigel Melker Ocean + 6.368s
5. Luiz Razia Arden + 6.523s
6. Felipe Nasr DAMS + 7.552s
7. Davide Valsecchi DAMS + 9.051s
8. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 9.841s
9. Max Chilton Carlin + 11.116s
10. Rio aryanto Carlin + 11.958s
11. Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus + 12.130s
12. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering + 12.843s
13. Fabio Onidi Coloni + 14.982s
14. Stephane Richelmi Trident + 15.701s
15. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering + 16.421s
16. Simon Trummer Arden + 16.818s
17. Josef Kral Addax + 17.833s
18. Victor Guerin Ocean + 18.167s
19. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax + 23.183s
20. Giancarlo Serenelli Lazarus + 24.345s
21. Julian Leal Trident + 38.351s
22. Marcus Ericsson iSport + 39.831s
23. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham + 2 laps
Stefano Coletti Coloni 20 laps
James Calado Lotus 17 laps
Daniel de Jong Rapax 1 lap