Circuit de Monaco
Kral Takes Solid Sixth In Prestigious Monaco Race, Palmer Out Of Luck
The numbers tell the story: only 15 of the 26 starters were still running at the end of the first GP2 Series race of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, but Czech Josef Kral drove swiftly and consistently throughout the 42 laps to finish an excellent sixth for Arden International.
Several penalties were applied to drivers after qualifying, with the result that Kral moved up to fifth on the grid. He dropped one position in the early stages, but then ran solidly in sixth place until making his mandatory tyre stop on the 10th of 42 laps. He resumed in sixth once his main rivals had pitted and stayed there to the flag – an encouraging result that puts him third on the grid for tomorrow afternoon’s sprint.
Team-mate Jolyon Palmer was engaged in a tense midfield battle for much of the morning, but braking woes – the result of light contact with a barrier – caused him to miss the chicane on one lap and soon after he made a lengthy pit stop to have the problem investigated. The Englishman resumed after eight laps and was still running at the end, but was too far adrift to be classified as a finisher.
“The start was pretty tight because Sam Bird stalled in front of me and I didn’t have much room to squeeze around him – that’s why I lost a position to Giedo van der Garde, which was a shame. Jules Bianchi then overtook me – I gave him ample room, but he was still very aggressive and made contact. I think that caused him more problems than it did me, because I was able to continue with a cracked exhaust but he suffered more serious damage that led to another accident later on. I slowed for a few laps because of my exhaust situation, because the engine was making a very different noise and I had to adjust to driving by feel rather than sound.
“I lost a bit of time in traffic after my tyre stop, because I was caught behind slower cars that had yet to pit, and it was hard getting past them because I was only running fresh tyres at the rear and initially that gave me a bit of understeer. Once I was on a clear track I was able to close the gap to Stefano Coletti, but we all know how difficult it is to pass other cars around here. In the end I decided it was better to take a cautious approach, ensure a strong finish and obtain a favourable grid position tomorrow.”
“I didn’t make too bad a start, although I lost a couple of places during the initial scramble. I was able to run at a reasonable pace until my tyre stop and was hoping to rejoin on a clear track, but quite a few others pitted, too, so I remained in a traffic jam. At one point I clipped the wall – not a big hit, but I could feel the brakes starting to fade so had to make a second stop. I managed to get going again for another lap or two, but I’m disappointed with the outcome. I felt that a top 10 finish was definitely possible and that will be my target tomorrow.”