Sergio Perez underscored why he'll be in Formula 1 next year with a dominant performance in Saturday morning's GP2 Series feature race at Abu Dhabi.
The Barwa Addax driver jumped into the lead from P2 on the grid, outdragging poleman Oliver Turvey of iSport into the first corner. Turvey survived a brush of wheels with Ocean's Fabio Leimer to claim second, while Romain Grosjean stormed from sixth to third in his DAMS-run car.
Perez's escape was spoiled when the safety car was required to clear away Adrian Zaugg's stranded Trident car, which had been tipped into a spin by Michael Herck (DPR). But he powered away from Turvey once more at the restart on lap four, and he was already over six seconds clear before taking his mandatory pit stop on lap 12.
His pace was even more impressive after that and he went on to romp to victory by 21sec. Turvey finished second, but the drives of the race came from Sam Bird (ART) and Dani Clos (Racing Engineering).
Grid penalties after qualifying dropped them to 18th and 11th respectively, but Bird quickly got himself up to seventh and an early pitstop strategy helped him gain a couple more places. Bird passed Luis Razia (Rapax) and Davide Valsecchi (iSport) to grab third, with Clos racing right in his wheel tracks. A final effort from Clos to grab Bird's podium place almost ended in a collision, but a locked-up Clos just managed to miss his British rival.
Champion Pastor Maldonado (Rapax) was the only other driver to lead apart from Perez, after the Mexican had pitted. But his race was doomed when he was given a drive-through penalty for passing under yellow flags during the early safety car. After many laps of arguing, he finally took his penalty and made a late tire stop which dropped him to 17th.
Valsecchi finished fifth, surviving a clash of wheels with Leimer after the restart, while Grosjean – who suffered a wheelgun failure during his pitstop that cost him places – recovered to finish sixth, passing Razia on the final lap.
Comeback kid Josef Kral will start the sprint race from pole position for Super Nova on his return to the series following the back injury he suffered in Valencia. He finished eighth after holding off Brendon Hartley (Coloni).
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Sergio Perez Barwa Addax 59m53.752s
2. Oliver Turvey iSport + 21.065s
3. Sam Bird ART + 29.695s
4. Dani Clos Racing Engineering + 30.442s
5. Davide Valsecchi iSport + 36.614s
6. Romain Grosjean DAMS + 38.175s
7. Luiz Razia Rapax + 39.196s
8. Josef Kral Super Nova + 39.724s
9. Brendon Hartley Coloni + 40.679s
10. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden + 49.704s
11. Marcus Ericsson Super Nova + 55.360s
12. Max Chilton Ocean + 57.925s
13. Fabrizio Crestani DPR + 58.334s
14. Jerome D'Ambrosio DAMS + 58.836s
15. James Jakes Coloni + 1m01.227
16. Michael Herck DPR + 1m02.178
17. Pastor Maldonado Rapax + 1m14.109
18. Jules Bianchi ART + 1m29.646
19. Federico Leo Trident + 1m36.305
20. Charles Pic Arden + 1 lap
Ho-Pin Tung Racing Engineering 11 laps
Fabio Leimer Ocean 7 laps
Adrian Zaugg Trident 0 laps
Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax 0 laps