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F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: GP2 series to feature a title-decider like F1

Giovinazzi seven points ahead of teammate Gasly ahead of final round

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
(clockwise from bottom right) Jenson Button of McLaren Honda, Felipe Massa of Williams Racing, Felipe Nasr of Sauber F1 team Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari and Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing, addressing media at the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina circuit on Thursday.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The feeder series for Formula One, GP2, will like its ‘big brother’ also crown a world champion this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Last month, at the 10th and penultimate round in Sepang, 22-year-old rookie Antonio Giovinazzi secured his fifth win in dominant fashion.

The PREMA Racing newcomer therefore took a seven-point lead in the drivers’ standings ahead of his teammate and closest rival, Pierre Gasly.

The Frenchman, who has won three times in 2016 and who is just 20, is in his second season in GP2 after finishing eighth overall in 2015.

And title race between the pair truly intensified in Malaysia last time out.

For the fourth time this season, Gasly took pole position for the feature race — but his title ambitions stalled when he dwelt on the start-line and opened the door for his rival. Giovinazzi promptly raced through for victory while Gasly could do no better than 11th place. The Frenchman partly made up for it in the sprint race on Sunday with third place, but the damage was done and it’s all to play for in Abu Dhabi.

In its 12th season, GP2 has already supplied five of its champions to F1: Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastien Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer, while half the 22-driver F1 grid are GP2 graduates.

At the tender age of 19, meanwhile, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc is the man in the driving seat as the 2016 GP3 series heads for its final showdown at Yas Marina.

But, as with the senior GP2 series, it’s his teammate and Thai rival, Alexander Albon, who is his closest pursuer.

Albon’s victory in the feature race at Sepang last time out was the 20-year-old’s fourth of the season, but greater consistency has left Leclerc with a handy 29-point advantage as he arrives in Abu Dhabi for the ninth and final round of the season.

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