Monaco is notorious for turn one incidents and today was no different for the GP2 feature race.
The GP2 Championship Series weekend in the Principality began on Thursday for official practice. Half the field used the Pirelli Soft and Supersoft tire during the session and the other half remained on the soft compound only, making qualifying predictions difficult as each team diced a different strategy for qualifying, later that afternoon.
Caterham Racing decided to remain on the soft compound and as with most things in Monaco, GP2 qualifying was also slightly different for this event. The standard thirty minute practice session was split into two groups to help reduce traffic, while providing the best chance for all drivers to record a clear lap. Alexander was in the first group, and struggled to find pace with the car, ending the session 7th. After the completion of 2nd group, Alexander was placed 13th on the grid for Friday's feature race.
GP2 Monaco Qualifying - Alexander Rossi – P13 – 1:22.511
Alexander Rossi "I have always been confident in Monaco and have enjoyed some good results here in the past. In free practice this morning we ran the soft tire and I suffered a large amount of understeer. Before qualifying we were optimistic about the changes we'd made to mitigate problems from practice, however there was the unknown of not practicing on the super soft tire early in the day and unfortunately the changes did not work and believe we lost even more time to the leaders. Starting mid pack in Monaco is never going to be easy, but we've worked hard on a good strategy for the race one and my personal goal will be to get to the top eight. This is achievable if I get a good start and a clean first lap."
Cecotto was hot off the line from pole position but lost control and hit the wall at turn one causing a concertina effect behind him as one by one the top thirteen cars piled into each other which Alexander was unlucky to be caught between Robin Frijns in front and Stefano Coletti behind.
The race was red flagged and resumed after 45 minutes to clear up operation where confusion reigned. Drivers were unsure whether they could restart the race or not. Alexander Rossi was one of the unlucky ones, unable to take the restart following a steward's decision, a major disappointment after making up six places off the line and in a strong position to race for the coveted top 8 positions in Race one.
Chief Engineer Humphrey Corbett "This was a typically eventful Monaco race, starting with a crash and ending in lots of finger wagging and recriminations. It is a bitter shame for Alexander and we feel it was unfair that some cars were allowed to restart and Alexander was not, a decision which we challenged but that is Monaco. I have been engineering at Monaco for forty years and it is a special event where marshaling is extremely challenging and somebody usually loses out."
Alexander Rossi "I had a great start and was on the inside line challenging for seventh place going into turn one which was exactly where I wanted to be. It was instant carnage ahead and me along with most the cars around me had nowhere to go. It was disappointing to end my day this way after a great start and what seemed to be a good recovery from practice and qualifying. There was then confusion with the marshals, drivers and the team about getting out of the car and the restart process with some cars being pushed back to the grid. When we received the message that I was unable to restart the race I was gutted as I am sure a top seven finish was achievable following my start."
Following Friday's GP2 feature race where Alexander's day ended at turn one in a thirteen car pileup, placing him 23rd of 25 on the grid for Saturday's Sprint Race. Dark clouds loomed and rain fell as the cars lined up on the grid but it was not enough to warrant wet tyres and the race started on time.
With lessons learnt from the Friday feature race all 25 cars made it through the first corner without incident. Alexander made another good start with so little room for error around the streets of Monaco. The race was a bit of a procession around Monaco without a pit stop in the sprint race. Monaco is notoriously impossible to overtake and better their positions. Aside from no pit stops the sprint race did not have a full course caution or safety either to allow drivers grab positions on the restart. Alexander was able to find a few and brought the car home in 19th.
EQ8 Caterham Racing Team Manager Phill Spencer"This weekend in Monaco did not go to plan with the incident on Friday putting both drivers to the back of the grid and with a processional race it is impossible to progress through the field."
Alexander Rossi "Today was always going to be difficult as I started the race in 23rd place after not being allowed to restart the feature race. We took a risk in the race to run on super soft tyres in the hope to gain early track position. I had another good start, but so did everyone else and it's difficult to overtake in Monaco. I believed when it began to rain on the grid that I'd have an advantage if everyone pitted for wets to gain even more positions. This never happened and unfortunately we struggled with even more understeer throughout the race. This was not a good weekend for track results on my favorite circuit. We will improve on this before Silverstone next month."