The Yas Marina circuit hosted the last round of the 2014 GP2 season. Friday’s practice session was very competitive with the top ten covered by only seven tenths of a second. In the evening’s qualifying session Mitch improved his time in his final run to line up fourth on the grid behind Richelmi, Palmer and Vandoorne who secured his fourth pole in a row.
In the feature race on Saturday the Aucklander got a good start passing Richelmi into turn 1, before a two lap long safety car phase. After the restart Vandoorne and Nasr pulled away from the field however a few laps later the Belgian driver’s option tyre degraded heavily and both Palmer and Evans made short work of getting past him on lap 5. When Nasr also pitted for primes, Palmer and Evans were leading the field. With 9 laps to go Mitch and Jolyon who both started on the medium compound came in for option tyres.
The Russian Time team did a sterling job with the pit stop which almost got Mitch ahead of Palmer. Back on track both drivers managed to shorten the gap to leader Vandoorne with Mitch also reducing the gap to Palmer. However the soft tyres didn’t hold out well enough to challenge him or Vandorne and in the end Mitch finished third, claiming his sixth podium of the season.
‘I think we got the most out of the race and the strategy today. At the start the guys on the options had a bit more grip and pace for the first lap and the one after the safety car but then they completely dropped off. Big thanks to the team who did a great job at the pit stop. With about 5 laps to go I put the hammer down and was catching Jolyon again. The car felt good on the primes but we had a lot of tyre deg soI’m glad I got it home in third.’
Mitch started the 22-lap sprint race on Sunday from sixth position. Halfway through the race a battle for fourth place began as Cecotto dropped back towards Richelmi and Evans. With four laps to go Richelmi went for the pass on Cecotto round the outside of Turn 11 with Evans spotting an opportunity to pass both of them down the inside. Both Evans and Richelmi ran wide on the exit with Mitch immediately giving the position back to Cecotto but Richelmi retained 4th place which put him under investigation by the stewards. A lap later Mitch made the pass on Cecotto stick down the back straight to take home P5.
Richelmi was issued with a post race penalty for not handing back the position to Cecotto, moving Mitch up into fourth place in the last race of the 2014 GP2 season.
‘Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the weekend, we had a good pace and scored two good results. With the podium yesterday I secured fourth in the championship, which is a great achievement and I’m proud of that. We started the season off with a bit of a wobble with the new tyres, but once the team got on top of that we had a competitive car most of the weekends and got stronger as the season went on.’
‘Thanks to all the team for their efforts and hard work throughout the year. 2 wins, two second and two third place finishes show that we’ve all worked together very well and I am also happy to have finished off strongly this weekend.’
Mitch finishes the 2014 GP2 season in 4th position with 174 points.
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