Rossi Encounters the Perfect Storm in Valencia Valencia, Spain - June 29, 2010 - ART Grand Prix driver, Alexander Rossi took to the streets in Valencia, Spain this past weekend as the GP3 Series ran in support to the Formula 1 European Grand...
Rossi Encounters the Perfect Storm in Valencia
Valencia, Spain - June 29, 2010 - ART Grand Prix driver, Alexander Rossi took to the streets in Valencia, Spain this past weekend as the GP3 Series ran in support to the Formula 1 European Grand Prix. Rossi, confident on street circuits and having experienced success in the past, is not one to be intimidated by the close proximity of the walls.
Alexander wasted no time familiarizing himself with the circuit on his first run out during the free Practice session Friday afternoon, working with the team to fine tune the chassis set up during the 30 minutes available and climbing up the time charts to P2, only .22 seconds off quick time. Late in the session, a car stalled near the inside wall of the start/finish straight, bringing out a local yellow. It was there, in the final minutes, that ten cars, including that driven by Rossi improved their lap time. At the completion of the session the steward's office imposed a three-place grid spot penalty to each one to be served Saturday, Race 1.
ART Grand Prix, driver - Rossi on Streets of Valencia, Spain
"The incident in practice was a confusing one and caught out several drivers", Rossi commented. "The stalled car seemed safely on the inside wall and I came out of the throttle enough, but apparently the stewards viewed it differently. There is nothing that you can do to argue the case. The positives that came out of the session were, the car balance felt quite good and the pace was there. I was very confident going into qualifying that a starting position in the top five was attainable, even with the penalty."
Saturday's morning qualifying session had a new strategy, With ART conserving one set of new tires for the race to hedge against the grid penalty and the impended heat, causing tire degradation. Already short, at thirty minutes, Rossi spent some time waiting in pitlane in order to garner optimal on-track conditions to use the scrub set of tires then return to the pits for a quick change to his new set of Pirelli's. After he was released, Rossi realized the feedback from the car was not as he hoped which had him playing catch-up once the new rubber was bolted on. With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Alexander was on his first flying lap, when his ART Grand Prix team-mate, Esteban Gutierrez, hit the wall, inducing a red flag and subsequently ending the session.
"Qualifying was a real shame, the data showed that I was over 4/10ths up in sectors one and two, entering sector three, it looked as though the lap would have been good enough for the front row - until the red came out", Rossi added. "I was disappointed pulling into pit lane as time expired in the session, thus not allowing me to vault myself up the order. The only thing that I could do was look forward to the race and make up as many positions and score as many points as possible."
Knowing how to put adversity behind him and utilize the tools at his disposal, Alexander was focused straight ahead from P14 on the starting grid late Saturday afternoon. As soon as the lights went out Rossi got a great launch, leaping up the pack and slotting into P8 entering turn 2. As congestion filled the track ahead, the #1 ART Grand Prix entry would be sidelined with a broken piece of suspension. "I was tapped by a blue car on my left front and still not sure who it was", Rossi said. "It wasn't a huge impact but enough to break the suspension and put me out of the race."
Starting, P27, from the back of the grid Sunday morning for Race Two, Rossi made another great start, however after making up several positions to 19th on opening lap, this race would again end prematurely. "I was hit again on the first lap on the same left front corner", Rossi said. The suspension was bent, but I carried on having to hold the wheel at a 90 deg and horizontal just to keep the car on the road! I passed a few more cars but then the suspension broke completely and that was it."
"It was a rough weekend for Alexander that had been compromised in qualifying", Nicolas Todt, Co-Owner of ART Grand prix commented. "Starting in the middle of the field is not easy and it put an early end to Alexander's race when he's been pushed out by another driver. Every successful driver has to experience some difficult weekends and I'm sure he will bounce back quickly, strait away at Silverstone in two weeks."
"It is frustrating when you know you have the tools to perform, but cannot execute for one reason or another", Rossi said. "We made some significant brake changes on Saturday night to enhance the performance under braking and I was quite pleased with the result during the beginning of Sunday's race. I'm really looking forward to a redeeming weekend at the upcoming rounds in Silverstone. As always, my focus will be on securing the maximum amount of points from the event, especially now as I lye third in the driver's championship. Having a weekend like this is never fun for those involved, but nevertheless it is very motivating and makes the victories that much sweeter."
Rossi 3rd in Championship to ART team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, who leads championship by 18 points.The next rounds of the GP3 Championship takes place, July 9-11 at Silverstone, United Kingdom, alongside GP2 and Formula 1.