Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 Correspondent
Vietoris closes out season with Monza win; Filippi finishes 2011 second in points to champion Grosjean
Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris did what he needed to secure the GP2 Series season finale race in Monza, Italy. The German held his ground even with pressure from Fabio Leimer and Jules Bianchi to take the Sprint race victory at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. After earning the Feature race win yesterday, Luca Filippi scored enough points today take the vice-championship.
Vietoris had a great start when the lights went out and he slipstreamed past the pair on the front row. The German took the victory by 0.7 seconds over Leimer to take his second win of the season.
I want the trophy tonight so I can read it on the plate!
“The start was the goal to win the race, obviously: we had a very difficult start to the season so it felt very good to turn it around, and the last few weekends have been very nice for us! Some good points, we moved up to P3 in the team championship and as a driver I'm P5 or 6 coming from nowhere. It feels good to make the turnaround,” said the winner at the post-race press conference.
Polesitter Bianchi (Lotus ART) and front row starter Leimer both bogged down which allowed the German to slip past them as he flew into the lead before the first chicane on the fast Monza circuit. Seizing the opportunity that Vietoris did, Adam Carroll tried the same move but did not make it stick so he settled for fourth at the time.
Behind them, Charles Pic (Addax Team) ran into the rear of the 2011 series champion, Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman title holder earned his crown at the penultimate round and he lost two laps in the pits so the DAMS team could fit a new rear wing. In the same incident Pic also hit the side of Filippi’s Scuderia Coloni car. Pic was out of the race.
The Italian who won the Feature race yesterday was in the hunt for the vice-championship title which is one of the key elements for a racer who wants to make it up the ladder into Formula One. Filippi knew what he needed points wise and put on a charge to make up ground.
Behind the top four were Sam Bird (iSport) and Lotus ART’s Esteban Gutierrez who both have won races this season and were after all the points they also could garner in the 2011 finale event. Both were gunning for the podium. Nevertheless, Filippi had his home country support and as they cheered him on, he was able to overtake Gutierrez. At the same time, Leimer was pressuring Bianchi – Filippi’s main rival.
Monza is not an easy track to overtake one’s competition but if one is patient, they can find the perfect opportunity. Leimer did and moved his Rapax team car into second; no doubt to the delight of Filippi who had his sights set on Bird. The Brit had other ideas and he was looking to take over fourth from Carroll. As it turned out, the Super Nova driver lost his position to both Bird and then Filippi. The top five never changed, even though the battle for 3rd was fierce. Vietoris took the win followed by Leimer, Bianchi, Bird and Filippi.
“The year was really hard for us: our aim was to win the championship, to finish on the podium many times, win a Feature race, but in the end I had a hard year, only one victory in Barcelona sprint. Yesterday I came third, and I'm really happy to finish again today on the podium, and now I have to look to see where I finished in the championship, because I wasn't looking before!”, smiled Leimer.
Behind them was a train of cars which Carroll led for a while until he stumbled and others zoomed past. Racing Engineering’s Dani Clos, iSport’s Marcus Ericsson, Luiz Razia (Team AirAsia) and Pal Varhaug (DAMS Team) all sailed past Carroll to finish in the top ten.
Bianchi ended third but not with enough points to seal second in the points. He commented after the race, “Starting P1, finishing P3 is not a great result. Anyway, I did a bad start and then tried to follow the rhythm of Vietoris and Leimer, but it was not quick enough.”
On Filippi taking the vice-championship, Bianchi commented, “I am disappointed because this weekend we worked a lot, we tried very hard and were going to be fast here but made a mistake: P19 doesn't help at all, but I think Filippi was really quick and he deserves his second place, so well done to him. Today we are in the right place: third is a good place for us.”
Filippi showed today that he was very determined to finish second in the points even with a setback at the start of the shorter sprint race and the earlier loss of one ride before picking up his new ride during the season! Of course the victory yesterday did help his chances today. “I want the trophy tonight so I can read it on the plate! It's unbelievable: after the beginning of the season, even though the speed was there, I wasn't scoring points, but something happened, everything clicked, and we did everything right in the last two or three months,” said the Italian.
“Yesterday was amazing for me: we made a proper win, in Italy, with a gap and a fastest lap, with a strong pace. For me and the team it was amazing, and when I was on the podium singing the anthem it was one of the biggest moments of my life,” he added.
The end result handed Addax the team championship over DAMS and Racing Engineering. It was a good finish for all three teams and Vietoris aided his team in finishing third. When asked about his future, the German said, “I never know what the future is – maybe it's in GP2, maybe it's in DTM, maybe it's in Formula 1 – so it's always important to finish the season on a high level for when the decisions on the future are made. And I'm quite looking forward to the future, to be honest!”