After counting down the ten top sporting moments of 2016, we have finally reached the no.1 slot. Which sporting moment has been ranked as my top sporting moment of 2016?
- 2016 GP2 Series Azerbaijan round
This might come as a shock or random pick as my top sporting moment but there are numerous little moments that make this an absolute classic. As the support series to F1, you would expect GP2 to not produce high quality race weekends and especially when both are visiting Baku for the first time.
Friday qualifying was postponed till after F1’s Free Practice Two session due to issues with the kerbs making the track unsafe. If that wasn’t enough drama. The feature race on the Saturday delivered a race that would rank higher than most premier racing series this year in a list of top races of 2016, with only 10 drivers finishing on the lead lap come the chequered flag.
A multi car collision at the first corner took out five drivers before everyone started literally fighting for position, thus taking five more drivers out before the latter stages of the 26-lap race.
Those who kept their cool without getting into scraps were rewarded with top ten finishes and there was late drama when Jordan King and Jimmy Eriksson collided on lap 24 to give motorsport one of its lowest number of race finishers in years. Antonio Giovinazzi managed to hold off his competitors and take his first GP2 win.
Think you heard it all? The sprint race had it all. Giovinazzi started in 8th but plummeted to last place on the opening lap, due to engine gremlins. On lap eight, King and Eriksson once again collided to bring out the safety car for the first time in race two.
The first safety car restart was just shambolic with race leader, Nobuharu Matsushita accelerating earlier than anticipated. As a result, he nearly caught the safety car but that was the least of his worries when the second safety car period ended.
He backed everyone up but as soon as hit the safety car line, other drivers went for it whilst the rest were at the pace as dictated by the Japanese, sparking a mass collision and saw three drivers forced to retire due to damage.
On the third restart, Matsushita collided with Raffaele Marceiello at turn one and finally got his karma when he too was forced to retire from the race.
This left those who had started near the back with a shot at getting points. Giovinazzi however wasn’t going to let that happen. The Italian was behind his teammate, Pierre Gasly but closed the gap heading into the last lap without DRS.
Giovinazzi drove around the outside of turn one before doing a switchback and took the lead when Gasly ran wide. He then went on to comfortably win the race and blow the title race wide open, whilst becoming the first driver in four years to achieve a clean sweep of any GP2 race weekend. Prema Racing also achieved their first 1-2 finish despite having only joined the series this season.
The rest of the GP2 season from that point on delivered absolute thrillers from Austria’s wet sprint to the safety car picking up the wrong leader in Monza to the final race, when Gasly finally became GP2 champion.
The main reason why this is my top sporting moment of 2016 is purely because it had every emotion that any motorsport fan would expect and numerous collisions. The F1 race on the other hand was quite dull and forgettable whereas the GP2 race had everything that we expected F1 to have for their race.
Here to hopefully another year of great sporting shocks in 2017.
If yet to do so, check out the rest of my top ten sporting moments of 2016;