The McLaren young driver finished fourth in today’s Sprint Race, outscoring title rival Alexander Rossi to secure the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 4 races remaining. Richie Stanaway won the race, his second win in the series, with a controversial pass on Rio Haryanto, who came home second. Raffaele Marciello finished in third, holding off Vandoorne to take the final podium position.
Stanaway passed Arthur Pic, who claimed reverse grid pole in yesterday’s Feature Race, on the first lap, a lead he kept for the majority of the race. Haryanto also made a solid start, passing Pic just before Sirotkin spun Stoneman around and out of the race on his debut GP2 weekend. Behind them, Stockinger and Binder came together, and as a result the safety car made another appearance.
On the restart the top 3 remained the same, followed by Pierre Gasly, Marciello, Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi. Stanaway and Haryanto pulled away as Pic held the rest of the field up. An attempted pass from Gasly on his fellow countryman saw him run wide and drop back. It was lap 9 when Marciello and Vandoorne eventually passed Pic, both fighting for the remaining podium spot but with the latter having to keep the championship fight in mind.
Despite some off track excursions for the Ferrari Driver Academy star, Vandoorne was content to remain behind, knowing that to win the championship he had to finish the race first. Soon the pair caught Haryanto as they were caught by Gasly, engaging in a terse battle. Haryanto dropped the trio, catching up to Stanaway at a rapid pace.
After closing in so quickly Haryanto looked to pass the Status driver, pulling off a move for the lead – which, while successful, finished just milliseconds after a safety car was brought out thanks to Johnny Cecotto hitting the barrier hard on the penultimate lap. Questions were asked as to whether the pass was legal, questions which were answered when Stanaway took the place back, albeit again under safety car conditions.
The safety car returned to the pits on the final corner, allowing the race to finish at full speed, despite rules dictating that no overtaking was allowed. Stanaway claimed his second win of the year, Haryanto behind him (stating on the podium that Stanaway’s pass on him was indeed illegal) and Marciello hanging on to keep third.
The attention was mainly centred on Stoffel Vandoorne, who crossed the line in fourth in his ART to take the Drivers’ Championship having dominated the season. With four races remaining, ART will be looking to add the Team Championship to their growing list of accolades.