Oliver Turvey scored the point that won Norfolk’s iSport the GP2 Asia constructors’ crown, but that was the only consolation for him on a weekend that saw him lose second place in the drivers’ standings while his team-mate wrapped up the title.
iSport’s other driver, Davide Valsecchi won the first race of the weekend, ensuring the championship was his whatever happened in the second – which was just as well, as he finished that contest a lap down as the final runner after being forced into the pits to replace a front wing broken in an opening lap tussle.
The sprint was won by Arden’s Charles Pic, who overtook polesitter Adrian Zaugg at the start and kept clear of the mess behind him to build a winning lead.
Turvey had qualified sixth for the feature race but saw his chances wrecked by an extended stay in the pits caused by a wheelgun problem and ended up ninth.
In the sprint he was one of a number of drivers who found a way through Daniele Zampieri’s defences to make late overtakes, and his sixth place earned him a single – but crucial – championship point.
DPR’s Giacomo Ricci, who retired from both the first races of the season, now sits second in the championship after finishing fourth in the feature race and second in the sprint. Turvey is two points further back, with Luca Filippi and Javier Villa a point behind him.
Turvey said: “It’s very close for second in the drivers’ championship so I’m looking forward to the next race in Bahrain, where I’ll aim to take second place and top off a great campaign for the team.”
iSport principal Paul Jackson said: “This has been a great weekend for us. Both Oliver and Davide have been really impressive and fitted in with the team straight away.
“We’ll be aiming to get Oliver back into second in the final round back here in Bahrain in a few weeks time.”
Sam Bird, carrying BritsOnPole.com branding on his car’s nose for the first time, began the process of reversing the disappointing first half to his season by charging from 10th to grab fourth in the sprint race.
He had qualified 11th for the feature and ran comfortably in the top eight before both he and his ART team-mate, Jules Bianchi, fell back late in the race to come home 13th and 10th.
Max Chilton, now back with Barwa Addax after scoring points at Abu Dhabi with Ocean Racing, fell back towards the rear of the field again with an 18th and a 12th-place finish.
His team nevertheless declared themselves happy, saying of his sprint race performance: “The young British driver set a very good race pace, which meant he was able to stay with the main group of drivers in the middle of the field. It shows that he is adapting quickly to the higher demands of the GP2 class.
“He had to start from an uncomfortable position and he could do no more than he did due to being held up by slower cars throughout the course of the whole race.”
Chilton himself said: “Even though it hasn’t been the best of weekends, I have to feel satisfied that I’m fulfilling my main aim, which is to learn and gain as much experience as I can. I’m sure that we will get our just desserts for all the hard work we are doing. The results are just a question of time.”
Will Bratt, running for Coloni, was 16th in the first race and unclassified in the second. After the feature race he said: “Despite the finishing position today’s race was one of the best so far for me in the GP2 Asia Series. My start was good, then there were a few mistakes where I went too deep going into the corners and ran wide, which lost me some places.
“Then after the pit-stop I settled down for the rest of the race. This part was very good because I was able to manage my tyres well and I overtook four more cars. With some more laps we could have overtaken even more at the end, definitely one and possibly another three cars”.
Team boss Paolo Coloni said of his sprint race: “Bratt did a really good start, he made up four places in a lap, and without people crashing into him he really could have been in the top eight.”