Valtteri Bottas took his fourth victory of the season in a thrilling Race 1 in Monza today to secure the 2011 GP3 Series crown after a head to head battle with his Lotus ART teammate and championship rival James Calado. Bottas kept his cool and put his head down to take the win despite immense pressure from the Brit who finished second to secure his runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings.
Poleman Adrian Quaife-Hobbs had a good start to hold onto the lead of the race from Nico Müller, but it was Bottas who flew off the line when the lights went out. The Finn made up two places to take third before the first corner ahead of Rio Haryanto and Mitch Evans with Calado holding his ground in sixth.
There was then a furious race-long battle for the podium spots from the leading drivers. With Müller pushing Quaife-Hobbs hard for the lead, Haryanto was first to make a move passing Bottas for third and leaving the Finn in the clutches of his teammate Calado. But a few laps in the Marussia Manor Racing squad received a double blow with Müller snatching the lead from Quaife-Hobbs and Bottas taking back the final podium spot from Haryanto. The top three were then side-by-side with the British driver loosing another spot to the Finn.
Calado made up two more spots by passing Evans and Haryanto, and the battles continued to rage as the laps counted down, until a mistake from Quaife-Hobbs at Ascari led the Manor driver to hit the wall on lap 10 and the safety car was deployed. With just three laps left after the re-start Calado prepared for an attack on his teammate and by the final lap he was pushing Bottas hard to keep his title hopes alive. But the Finn defended perfectly keeping his teammate at bay until the checkered flag came out to crown Bottas champion. Haryanto and Müller swapped places numerous times in the closing laps with the Indonesian eventually grabbing the final podium place.
Simon Trummer finished an impressive fifth for MW Arden ahead of Conor Daly, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Evans, Melker and Richie Stanaway.
As so the champion was crowned and greeted in parc fermé by his team Champions Lotus ART to celebrate.
GP3 Series™ will be back on track tomorrow morning for Race 2 at 09:20 local time with Mitch Evans on pole position for MW Arden.
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