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Giovinazzi victorious amid safety car confusion in GP2 Monza feature race


2016 GP2 Series Round 9. Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza, Italy. Friday 2 September 2016. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA, PREMA Racing) Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service. ref: Digital Image _X0W4219

Zak Mauger

Antonio Giovinazzi claimed a stunning home victory in Saturday’s GP2 feature race at Monza, fighting back from qualifying exclusion to claim his fourth win of the season.

Giovinazzi had qualified second on Friday, only for a technical irregularity to drop him to the back of the field.

Prema Racing teammate Pierre Gasly led the field away from pole, narrowly escaping damage at the first corner after minor contact with Artem Markelov.

Gasly managed to retain his lead before pitting at the end of lap 12, switching from soft tires to mediums that would see him to the end of the race.

The lead cycled around to the drivers running an alternate strategy, with the trio of Raffaele Marciello, Gustav Malja and Giovinazzi going deep into the race before making a stop.

All three became embroiled in the fight for victory when the safety car was deployed following a terrifying crash involving Arthur Pic and Sergio Canamasas, the latter’s car rolling in the air after contact at the second Lesmo. Thankfully, both drivers were able to walk away.

Marciello, Malja and Giovinazzi all dived into the pits to switch to soft tires, with the safety car emerging from the pit lane behind them before incorrectly picking up Gasly at the front of the train.

After a few laps of confusion that had seen the trio essentially gain a lap, Gasly and co. were waved past before the safety car picked up Marciello as the rightful race leader ahead of Malja and Giovinazzi.

The race returned to green with seven laps remaining, with Gasly running fourth. The Frenchman tried to pass Giovinazzi at the first chicane, only for the lapped Sean Gelael to get in the way. The Indonesian driver was black flagged on the last lap.

Giovinazzi found his feet and passed Malja for second place in the closing stages before diving past Marciello on the final lap, completing an epic comeback.

Giovinazzi led Marciello home to head up an Italian one-two at Monza, delighting the fans that had stuck around after Formula 1 qualifying.

Malja clung on to third place ahead of Gasly, who saw his series lead fall to just eight points on Saturday as a result of Giovinazzi’s victory.

Norman Nato was fifth for Racing Engineering ahead of Luca Ghiotto and Jordan King, while Mitch Evans will start from reverse grid pole on Sunday after finishing eighth.

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