Trackback // Abu Dhabi, 2013
Daniil Kyvat had one thing on his mind when he arrived in Abu Dhabi for the final round of the 2013 GP3 Series: to claim the title he had craved all season long and justify his recent signing to race in F1 with Toro Rosso in 2014.
The MW Arden driver underlined his ambition by topping both the free practice and qualifying sessions, with series leader Facu Regalia unable to come close: the Argentinean improved from 12th to 10th between the sessions, with the remaining title contender Tio Ellinas 2 spots further back on the grid, but neither driver looked in the same league as the Russian, who closed the points gap to just 3 ahead of the first race.
Race 1 brought the first ever GP3 night race, putting the Series on display in front of the F1 paddock, and Kyvat rose to the occasion: storming away when the lights went out to easily lead Alexander Sims and Nick Yelloly into turn 1, with the Russian’s teammate Carlos Sainz running wide and dropping back into the pack, handing Conor Daly a line through into P4: a brief safety car followed when Carmen Jorda jumped the kerbs further around the lap, but her car was soon removed and Kyvat easily controlled the restart.
Sainz removed Patrick Neiderhauser from the proceedings with an unwise move on lap 5 (the Spaniard would continue in the race to finish P9 on the road, before being excluded by the stewards after the race for causing a collision), with Regalia moving up as he tried everything he could to close down the position gap to Kyvat and keep the title alive: with just 17 points on offer in the final race of the season and the Russian looking serene out front, the Argentinean needed to finish as high as possible to keep his challenge alive.
At the flag there was no question about the win: Kyvat eased off over the closing laps but was untroubled by Sims for his third win of the season, with Yelloly just holding off Daly and ART teammate Jack Harvey as the pair secured the Teams’ title for the French squad. Dean Stoneman made an impressive Series debut with P6 ahead of a crestfallen Regalia, who was unable to stop Kyvat claiming the Drivers’ title with one race remaining and, to add insult to injury, later picked up a 20 second time penalty for ignoring yellow flags and exceeding track limits, dropping him out of the points and promoting Ellinas and Patrick Kujala in his place.
“After Spa I thought there was a chance for the title,” Kyvat laughed afterwards, “and after Monza I thought ‘let’s go for it!’ We came here with one goal, and we did it. It makes this taste even better, because I came here with this one sole goal. I was focused all weekend with my coach, and I’m really, really happy.”
Ellinas made up for his disappointment at failing to bring home the title after leading the Series for much of the year on Sunday, topping and tailing the season with wins after making a great getaway from P2 in race 2, holding off Stoneman and Daly all the way to the flag, with the American once again holding off teammate Harvey and newly crowned champion Kyvat rounding out the top five in the final race of the season.