The Autodromo di Monza held the last European round and ninth of the GP2 Championship over the weekend.
A track loved by many drivers, offering high downforce, with high speed corners and long straights there are many opportunities to overtake.
Friday’s Qualifying session opened under dark clouds but with a dry track, Andre and Rene fed out onto the tarmac on their first set of options. Both drivers managed sector one well but it was on their second set of tyres that they both posted their quickest times with Andre setting tenth fastest time, six tenths behind pole and Rene marked up nineteenth, only seven tenths behind pole. A typically close Qualifying session at this circuit.
Andre had a good start for Race one, settling into eighth and pitting on lap ten for the hard compound tyre. A good pit stop enabled him to come out in front of Carlin duo, Felipe Nasr & Julian Leal. Once everyone had made their mandatory stop, Andre took up fifth position and raced on form to the chequered flag. He added another ten points to his growing rostrum.
Team-mate Rene was less fortunate and was caught up in the chicane incident on lap two forcing him to come in for a wing change. This dropped the Austrian back to twentieth where he was unable to gain any real headway and crossed the line without progress.
Andre scored another top five finish in Sunday mornings Sprint Race. Starting from fourth the Brazilian maintained position into turn one, two separate incidents caused a safety car period for several laps. On the re-start the Arden points scorer was unable to hold off pressure from Stefano Coletti (Racing Engineering) and dropped back to fifth.
Despite continued pressure from Mitch Evans (RT Russian Time) in the last part of the race, Andre maintained focus and held off the New Zealander to finish fifth and pick up ten more points to tally his points weekend to sixteen. Team-mate Rene was less fortunate. Following a great start from twentieth he stormed to eleventh on lap one and moved up to tenth before a coming together with Sergio Canamasas (Trident) ended his race, leaving the Italian circuit pointless.
Rene Binder: "It was a frustrating weekend for me because we could not show the potential we had. P18 and only 0.12 behind Andre, who was P9. This small difference was very challenging. I did not get all my sectors together, so the theoretical laptime was better by 2 tenths, which would have put us easily in the Top 10 in Qualifying. This was a real shame!
Race one, I was involved in an incident with several, where I was really unlucky and damaged my front wing. We made 2 pitstops in the race, one for the wind and then the mandatory stop, so I finished twentieth. The pace was really good because after the first pitstop for the wing change, we only lost six seconds to the leader Vandoorne to the end of race.
Race two started perfectly for me. I had a really good start where I overtook 3-4 cars and a perfect first lap which put me to P10, starting from P20. I was very unlucky again that Canamasas hit me and put me out of the race.
The one good thing to take this weekend is that Andre showed that we have the pace to finish in the top 8. Basically it was really close in Qualifying and there was only 0.1 difference between us. Also in race1 I showed a good pace, which would have been competitive for the first 8 positions.
I will continue with my hard work and also the luck will come on our side again in the last two race weekends of the Championship."
Andre Negrao: “There isn’t much to say about free practice, I was sixteenth and had points where I could improve on track myself. So was hoping I could do this for Qualifying. It was a good Qualifying session my best finish this year, p10 again I made some mistakes that could be corrected but I was pretty happy. I was then promoted to p9 when Jolyon Palmer (Dams) was excluded from the results due to lack of fuel.
In race 1 I had a good start made up many positions but into turn 4 I lost a position to Felipe Nasr (Carlin). I had a good start on Sunday for Race Two, I managed to stay in my position. Then there was the safety car and on the restart I didn’t do so well and lost one position. That’s where I pretty much stayed for the rest of the race. Its great to take more points for the team and me. I am looking forward to Sochi now.”