P1 by Strakka Racing scored their first podium of the year, after a sensational drive by Will Stevens that saw the young Briton fly through the field from 11th on the grid to take a thoroughly deserved second place finish.
Both made a good start off the line and down to the first corner, with Stevens electing to take the inside line, just ahead of Laine who went to the outside. The field bottle-necked going into the turn, and careful to avoid contact, Laine lost track position and exited the corner having dropped to the rear of the field.
Meanwhile the no. 21 car wasted no time slicing through the pack, with Stevens picking off the opposition methodically to move his way up the order and into a solid points position.
His pace was unmatched by the cars around him and with just a handful of laps remaining, Stevens had secured third position with over four seconds between himself and AV Formula’s Arthur Pic, who was running in second.
Regardless of how much time was left on the clock, Stevens continued to push - determined to catch Pic and as the gap quickly closed, the Frenchman was under immense pressure to hold onto his second position.
As the pair headed down to the first corner on the final lap, Pic missed his braking point and Stevens was able to make the pass and take second place.
A truly impressive performance from the British driver secured 18 valuable championship points for himself and the team, and speaking about the race, Stevens said: “Qualifying was a bit of a struggle for us as it was a wet but drying track. The conditions made it quite difficult for us and we just didn’t improve in those last few minutes when others did.
We knew our race pace would be strong in the dry, which it was, and for the first part of the race I really just tried to manage my tyres and take it easy, knowing we could push later and make some progress once others started to struggle.
Having got into third, Pic made a mistake with a few laps to go and flat-spotted his tyres, which enabled me to close the gap, and coming into the first corner he made another error and we got by.
It’s a great result for myself and the team – we deserved good points from Monza and unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but this is a great way to kick start our championship campaign.”
Laine recovered well from 23rd position to finish in a credible 16th place. Speaking after the race, he said: “Our pace was actually really good and I was very happy with the car, it was just unfortunate that we lost so many positions on the first lap.
Qualifying was tough because of the mixed track conditions but we have a good race car in both the wet and dry, and I think we’re looking strong for tomorrow.”
Chief Engineer Mike Henderson added: “Today was a great team effort and very well driven by both drivers. It was unfortunate that Matias had the first corner incident which lost him track position, otherwise we’re confident that he would have been right up there too.”
The P1 by Strakka Racing team will be back on track on Sunday for the second qualifying of the weekend, scheduled to get underway at 09:50, with race two following at 14:30 (all times local).