Rossi flies to victory in Monza

From left, Vandoorne, Rossi and Evans
From left, Vandoorne, Rossi and Evans

Alexander Rossi came to Monza this weekend to peg back Stoffel Vandoorne's lead in the drivers' championship, and this afternoon he did just that: the American trailed the McLaren test driver for lap after lap before blasting past on lap 23 en route to a storming victory in today's feature race from Vandoorne and Mitch Evans.

Poleman Pierre Gasly made a strong start when the lights went out to hold the lead of the race into Rettifilio, while fellow front row starter Vandoorne was slow off the line, handing Alex Lynn a line inside and through. Further back Rossi, who was P9 out of turn one, had the first lap of his life to cross the line in P5, putting him in prime position to watch Sergey Sirotkin relegate Vandoorne to P4 on the next lap before a safety car emerged for Meindert van Buuren's broken car after the Dutch rookie found the wall at Ascari.

The race went live again on lap 5, with Vandoorne surprising his rivals by stopping next time through to switch to primes: most of the top ten started on the option tyre, and now had to look at when to stop to avoid the Belgian jumping them all. Gasly stopped from the lead on lap 8, emerging just behind Vandoorne and with a loose right rear to compound his problems, undoing the Frenchman's good work completely when he soon retired. Lynn, Sirotkin and Rossi stopped next time through, with the Russian making short work of the Series leader for a provisional lead two laps later.

Unfortunately for Sirotkin, Lynn ran too deep at turn one next time through, with the resultant damage eventually halting both men's races and handing the advantage back to Vandoorne, but Rossi sat behind his rival for lap after lap, waiting for his moment to pounce, while at the front Richie Stanaway and Artem Markelov fought tooth and nail to hang onto the lead on track before their eventual stops, ahead of Norman Nato and Rene Binder.

Rossi stalks Vandoorne
Rossi stalks Vandoorne

The lead pair finally stopped on lap 21 before re-commencing their battle, with the new lead pairing both stopping next time round as Rossi lined up to strike: on lap 23 the American unleashed, sliding inside Vandoorne at the Rettifillio for the lead of the race. The Belgian threw everything he had at his rival, but the American had him covered for his second win of the season.

Norman Nato finished a fine third on track, but a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane undid his good work, dropping the Frenchman to P6 on the classification: Mitch Evans was the primary beneficiary after a superb drive from 23rd at the start all the way to the podium, making up for yesterday's disappointment and holding off countryman Richie Stanaway after a late race battle, with Markelov in P5 ahead of Nato. Arthur Pic held off Jordan King, who will start tomorrow's sprint race from pole, while Robert Visiou and Binder claimed the final points on offer.

Press Conference

Alexander Rossi
Alexander Rossi

GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the press conference for today’s feature race here in Monza: joining us are race winner Alexander Rossi from Racing Engineering, in second place we have Stoffel Vandoorne from ART Grand Prix, and in third place we have Mitch Evans from RUSSIAN TIME. Alexander, congratulations on a great race and a great victory, where you followed for a long time before striking, getting by in turn one and holding him off for the rest of the race: how was it from your seat?

Alexander Rossi: It was quite good! We were obviously a bit lucky with others around us, but when it came down to Stoffel and I, I obviously had my intentions and was quite happy to sit behind him for those laps, just use the DRS to stay in touch, and when I thought we were quicker I was able to get by him in turn one, and from there the pace was quite strong and we were able to hold on and then break the DRS to him in the end. It was a very good win for us, and I think it shows again that we are just as capable as everyone else at looking after the tyres.

GP2 Series: Talk me through lap one: you went into turn one in P9 but finished the lap in P5, but what happened?

Alexander: Yeah, we didn’t get a great start, obviously, and then I was just a bit opportunistic with other people’s mistakes [laughs], and it was a very good first lap for me. So to come across [the line] when they said I was P5 after what I knew was a difficult start, I was very pleased with that.

GP2 Series: Naturally everyone was thinking about the tyres today, and you guys have had some problems with that in the past, but has that turned around now?

Alexander: Yeah, I think we learned a lot in qualifying: we saw a bit of a trend as to what area of the car is affected the most, and we made quite a few changes overnight to try to compensate for that, and I think it’s a testament to the effort the team put in last night: it’s a great result for them.

GP2 Series: You came here saying you wanted to take some points out of Stoffel, and you’ve done that today: what can we expect tomorrow?

Alexander: We started from P8 today and were able to win, so if we get a good start tomorrow and have the same first lap I think we’ll be in a good position. Obviously the gap’s still pretty massive at this point, but we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, try to get on the podium and win as many races as we can in the last couple of rounds.

GP2 Series: Congratulations. Stoffel, P2 today in a race that saw a bit of good luck and a bit of bad luck: are you happy with the result?

Stoffel Vandoorne: Yeah. First of all I think it was a good race from my point of view, and we had some good battles on track with a lot of people around: maybe a little bit lucky and pretty opportunistic as well, I put in some good moves and it’s been a fun race, even though I finished second behind Alex. I tried my best today, and it’s still a good amount of points: the team did a really good job today to get me into clean air and to pit early, and eventually to take the virtual lead of the race. When everything settled down a bit I knew it was a race between Alex and myself, and it looked like he had a bit more pace than I had and I saw that he was just sitting down and saving his tyres behind me: eventually he put a move on me and won the race. In the end it’s a good result, and we’ll try a bit better tomorrow.

GP2 Series: The early stop was a slightly risky move, because it would give you some clean air but might have compromised your tyres at the end of the race: how did you come to that decision?

Stoffel: Yeah, because we were not in the strongest position I think it was always best for us to box early and to make the tyres work, and to eventually gain the lead again was very good for us. Even if there was some degradation at the end we still had really good pace all along the race, and I think when you can get into clean air and break some gaps to the others behind it’s always better, even if you have some degradation at the end.

GP2 Series: Nevertheless, P2 is a solid haul of points towards the championship, so it must be satisfying?

Stoffel: Yeah, definitely. We’ve still got a good lead, even if we lost a few points today, and we’ll keep doing as usual: almost feeling disappointed with second is a bit of a luxury, I would say! [laughs] We’ll take points today, and we’ll see what happens in the next rounds.

GP2 Series: Great job today. Mitch, where do I begin? P23 to P3: talk us through your race.

Mitch Evans: Yeah, it’s all a bit of a blur to be honest! [laughs] I had a decent start and first lap, and at the safety car I was 16th or 17th I think, which was okay, and I still had P8 in my sights and thought that was realistic at that stage, so I went long on the option and was one of the last to stop, and then I just pinged them off through both stints really. Then I thought I was good for P5, and the guys came on the radio and said if I could get Pic I was on for a podium because Norman [Nato] had a penalty, and that was a bit of a surprise. I just wanted to keep it on track and bring it home, so it was a massive surprise! Obviously yesterday was a huge kick in the guts – it was nothing intentional and a complete accident – so it was good to come back and really show what speed we’ve got now, which is great. It’s so good to have the car back to performing well and back underneath me, and I think today really proved that.

GP2 Series: Talk us through your tyre choice, because it looked like you were still considering it on the grid?

Mitch: I wanted to start on prime whether I was P2 or dead last as I was – I thought that was the better strategy. I just took the tyres off on the grid just to cool them down after the warm up lap, but I always wanted to start option/prime, and I just wanted to go as long as possible to try and maximise the prime run: I think we knew the tyre deg was going to be a big part of the race, and fortunately we were on the better side of that and were able to fight off the guys on options at the end, which was a bit surprising to be honest. I was quite happy with the pace: I don’t know how we were compared to these guys, but obviously it wasn’t too bad, and hopefully tomorrow we can have a good race.

GP2 Series: Does this make up for the disappointment of yesterday?

Mitch: Yeah, it’s obviously good today and I don’t know if it would have gained us any performance benefits yesterday, but it’s good to come back and show that the performance is there within the rules: it’s never good to be excluded for a technical thing, and obviously it’s good to be back. It’s a bit like Jolyon last year, although a few places better, so it was a really good race and if we can do the same thing tomorrow, maybe we can get back on the podium.

Monza–Feature Race

Driver Team
1. Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering
2. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix
3. Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME
4. Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix
5. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
6. Norman Nato Arden International
7. Arthur Pic Campos Racing
8. Jordan King Racing Engineering
9. Robert Visoiu Rapax
10. Rene Binder MP Motorsport
11. Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus
12. Julian Leal Carlin
13. Rio Haryanto Campos Racing
14. Andre Negrao Arden International
15. Raffaele Marciello Trident
16. Simon Trummer Hilmer Motorsport
17. Patric Niederhauser Daiko Team Lazarus
18. Johnny Cecotto Trident
19. Jann Mardenborough Carlin

Not Classified

Sergey Sirotkin Rapax
Alex Lynn DAMS
Pierre Gasly DAMS
Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix
Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix
Meindert Van Buuren MP Motorsport

Fastest Lap: Johnny Cecotto (Trident) – 1:33,723 on lap 20

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