Mitch Evans stays cool to win in German heat
Kiwi driver Mitch Evans came from 15th on the grid to win his second race of the season in the GP2 series' 200th race in Germany.
Evans worked his way up the field in the early stages of the 38-lap feature race at Hockenheim, with an alternate tyre strategy paying dividends as he held on during a day where track temperatures soared to 57C degrees.
The Russian Time driver took over the lead with 13 laps remaining and managed to hold on from McLaren tester Stoffel Vandoorne and GP2 series leader Jolyon Palmer.
Evans, who also won the feature race last round at Silverstone, remained fourth in the standings but cut the gap to third to eight points.
The sprint race of the German Grand Prix weekend is at 8.30pm (NZ time).
With the top-10 opting for the conservative strategy of starting on prime tyres, Evans could afford to roll the dice and start on softs.
When the lights went out, Vandoorne had a brilliant start from second, easily dispatching pole-sitter Palmer before turn one, and with Tom Dillmann stalling from P4 the rest of the field was held up, with Stefano Coletti and Felipe Nasr following the leaders through, ahead of Arthur Pic and Johnny Cecotto.
No one expected the soft tyres to last long in the extreme temperatures, and so it appeared as the back half of the grid came in soon after the pits opened, but Evans, Pic and Raffaele Marciello sliced their way through the field. Pic and Marciello stopped on lap 11 but both stalled in the pits, undoing their good work and opening a window of opportunity for Evans to jump through when he stopped two laps later.
Evans came out behind Stephane Richelmi, the first of the stoppers, and the gap forward to Vandoorne was 32 seconds. Evans made short work of his rival at hairpin a couple of laps later to make himself the target for the eventual prime round of stops, and pulled a string of qualifying laps to overtake the last of the non-stoppers and put himself in the best position possible.
Palmer and Coletti stopped on lap 23, Vandoorne and Nasr two laps later, and the ART driver emerged to see Evans ahead of him on track.
While no one expected him to hold position, the question was how long would the softs last against old primes with 13 laps to go?
But Palmer had other ideas and started pushing Vandoorne hard for position, giving Evans a bit of breathing space as the pair took the best out of their tyres fighting each other rather than the Kiwi.
Despite the drama, Palmer extended his lead in the drivers' title fight over Nasr by 164 points to 115, ahead of Cecotto on 100 points, Evans on 92, Coletti on 79 and Vandoorne on 76.