Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 Corresondent
Venezuelan fulfills dream of standing on top of the podium in Monte Carlo
Johnny Cecotto earned his maiden GP2 Series victory this season with a dominating performance. The Barwa Addax Team driver started on the pole, and when the lights went out, he sailed away to take the Feature Race win on the famous street circuit in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Marcus Ericsson had to settle for second with Giedo van der Garde placing third.
The Venezuelan held off Ericsson to take the historic win. When the competitors arrived in the principality, no one would have expected today’s outcome. Cecotto, at the age of 23, was not one of the hands down favorites, and yet he flew out of the starting box. Yesterday he took the pole out of the hands of Max Chilton on the final lap of qualifying. Today, he again stunned everyone; including the FIA Formula One teams, drivers and fans!
It's just amazing.
“I can't describe it! It's just amazing: to win here is a thing that only the top of the top have won, so to win here in Monaco is just amazing! To win in these streets, you have no time, not even a tenth of a second, to think of anything else: almost not even the time to press the button and take a drink, because if you let the steering wheel go it's almost a sure crash! [laughs] So it's just an amazing feeling,” Cecotto said.
Ericsson did not make it easy as he put the pressure on Cecotto; especially after the mandatory pit stops, and in the end the Swede came up short by 0.564 seconds. For Cecotto, he was racing in front of his “hometown” friends as he resides in Monaco which gave him the extra drive to push toward the victory.
Ericsson moved his iSport International single-seater into second by the time they entered the famous Ste Devote corner. He had a bit of help when front-row starter Carlin’s Chilton was slow off the start and after Ericsson got by the Briton, van der Garde followed the Swede up the hill for third. The Monaco circuit is not an easy place to pass; but it is easy to make a costly error. The top three never put a wheel wrong nor did their teams as they were in and out of pit lane without any problems.
Chilton lost a bit of ground at the start but was able to keep Luiz Razia (Arden) Jolyon Palmer (iSport), Davide Valsecchi (DAMS) and Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus GP) taking fourth by the end of the first lap. In the meantime, the Venezuelan and the Swede were trading fastest lap times, and by doing so, the two leaders opened a gap to van der Garde; the Caterham driver took the checkered flag five seconds adrift of Cecotto.
After the pit stops, Razia had fallen back and was in a good battle with Gutierrez for eighth, but as they went overtaking a slower car entering the chicane, Gutierrez went in too deep and hit the wall after bouncing off the kerbs. The front win was broken on the Lotus and Razia’s day went from okay to not so okay. The Brazilian had to pit due to the debris that had punctured his tyre. Both were out of the points battle. That incident allowed Lotus GP driver James Calado to maintain seventh which he grabbed due to one of the best pit stops of the year.
Valsecchi was able to make the move on Chilton to add to his points lead tally by placing fourth. Chilton ended fifth followed by Palmer and Calado. Stephane Richelmi finished eighth to notch the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race.