Lewis Hamilton capped off another highly successful year for the ART GP2 team at the Monza circuit last weekend when he secured the team's second consecutive drivers title after two more podium finishes, following on from Nico Rosberg's inaugural crown for the team in 2005.
With their second successive constructors crown wrapped up two weeks ago in Turkey, Saturday's third place and fastest lap clinched first place for Lewis in his rookie season while teammate Alex Premat crossed the line fifth after a brilliant drive in race one to secure third place in the driver rankings.
In race two, Lewis started sixth while Alex was fourth. The ART racer new champion put in a determined drive but pushed a little too hard, flying into gravel at Lesmo. Thankfully he made it back on track and began the fight back cutting the gap from six seconds to under half as he attempted to pass Pantano into the second chicane. Cutting the chicane, Lewis took the position but was obliged to give it back finishing second, under half a second behind.
Unfortunately, Alex failed to finish the race, the young Frenchman unexpectedly retiring in the pits after a trip to the gravel at Lesmo.
Frederic Vasseur: "There were 2 objectives when we arrived at Monza: first and third places and both were filled by the time the weekend finished, so it perfectly from this point of view. There was also satisfaction owing to the fact that it was not a close call. Lewis had a beautiful first race, a solid result ensuring his championship victory at the end. In race 2 he finished second after a strong start and made up several positions along with the fastest lap. Our objective at the beginning of year was to win both titles, and now it is done and done well. Alex is far from losing out with a beautiful third place. Last year's third place is now in F1 and is doing a pretty good job! The main difference compared to last year is that we were pursued this year whereas we were the hunters in 2006. We were perhaps too cautious in the second part of season, but the final result is fabulous."
Lewis Hamilton -- 2006 champion, 114 points: "It's been an amazing season, a sensational rollercoaster. Today I just wanted to go out and have a good race, and I think I did that. There have been so many highlights this year. It's been amazing, a great feeling, and now the next step is Formula One World Champion! In race 2 I had my best start of the season and I had a good fight with Pantano. Unfortunately we could not win but we won the two championships and that's a great feeling. I really want to stress that without the ART Grand Prix team, without a great bunch of guys, without their hard work -- the best with whom I've worked with so far -- I would not have been able to achieve all these results and be a champion. I wish them all the success in the years to come. Alex has been a great teammate, he was so strong, I wish him the best and hope to see him around."
Alex Premat -- 3rd, 66 points: "Finishing fifth in race one at Monza secures my third position in the championship. It wasn't an easy race, as I didn't get the start that I wanted. I was behind Lewis Hamilton and Adam Carroll and then suddenly my engine cut out. Perera dashed ahead of me and Pantano was in the lead of the race. Luckily the car started again, but Pereira had already passed me. Last night's rain, did not do any good to the track conditions and they were also different than I expected. Overall, I'm pleased with the result because I collected more points from a difficult starting position and after a difficult race."
-credit: art grand prix