The ART GP team collected the fruits of their labours this weekend at the French Grand Prix when the potential displayed at the recent private testing sessions at the Paul Ricard Circuit on June 14 and 15 resulted in a victory for Nico Rosberg.
The ART GP team collected the fruits of their labours this weekend at the French Grand Prix when the potential displayed at the recent private testing sessions at the Paul Ricard Circuit on June 14 and 15 resulted in a victory for Nico Rosberg. In front of their home fans at the Magny Cours circuit, Alexandre took a very impressive pole position for the first race on Saturday.
After a great start, Alexandre was unable to keep his charging adversaries behind him with Heikki Kovalainen taking the lead by the first corner. Meanwhile, Nico secured a convincing third place on the starting grid, but like his teammate lost ground when the red lights went out. Alexandre Premat followed the leader's pace with ease, while Nico was overtaken by Scott Speed in the first corner before losing time behind Lopez, who he finally managed to overtake on the 11th lap. Five laps later the leaders pitted under safety car conditions after Oliver Pla beached his car in the gravel, but the two ART drivers opted to remain on track rather than come in for their compulsory stops.
When the race got back underway on lap 19, Alexandre led Nico until lap 32 when he finally pitted, emerging all the way down in 12th place. Meanwhile, Nico put in some very fast laps out in front but it too wasn't enough to keep him in front after his stop. He eventually finished seventh for two points while Premat was left to start race two from the fifth row of the grid. Starting from the front row of the grid in race two, Nico took advantage of the slow pole sitter, Clivio Piccione and stormed into the lead a second a lap faster than his rivals who were in the same Dallara Renault package! Nico had a 28 second lead on second placed Yoshimoto when he finally took the chequered flag.
Unfortunately race two wasn't successful for Alexandre, who was left to hunt down the leaders after his low finish in race one. Once past Piccione however, he began to join in on the Carroll/Kovalainen battle but locked up and made contact with Lopez just five laps from the end. Nico continues to strengthen his position in the championship battle and now occupies 3rd place with 29 points, while Alexandre has 14 while the ART Grand Prix team is third in the team classification.
Frederic Vasseur: The weekend was overall satisfactory since we got our first Pole Position thanks to Alexandre, as well as our first victory, taken with style by Nico. We confirm the progress that we have made recently and Sunday's victory helped pick up our mood a bit, which had been a bit down Saturday after the first race. Now we will face the upcoming races with confidence, determination, and optimism.
Alexandre Premat: The weekend had gotten off well with a nice Pole and the first race looked good until about halfway, where a flaw in the strategy of our team, which didn't react in time, jeopardized our result. You really can't blame the team, it's new and admits that it made a mistake, it will be the last one, and for my part I hope not to make any more. We have to move forward together and look at the positive, which can't be denied if you look at how competitive we are! As far as the second race is concerned, I didn't have anything to lose, it was a 'push like hell' race. I ran into Lopez in the hairpin, sliding on a spot where there was some dead rubber and my race ended there.
But I can't focus on the second race, I have to look to our performances from the first round, where I had the second best lap time in the race. We have reached a very high level in terms of pure performance, and now I am going to be very confident behind the wheel; we are working and analyzing the car well with the engineers and with Nico and I can't wait for the upcoming races because I am sure we are going to be very competitive.
Nico Rosberg: It was a great race for me. I knew the start was going to be very important. I nailed it perfectly. From then on I pushed like hell and was able to open up a gap immediately. It was a lot of fun as I could feel that my car was great. I am very happy to have finally won a race. We are very quick at the moment so I am looking forward to the next couple of races.