The Monza circuit, European temple of speed, presented a new challenge for the ART Grand Prix team where they managed to consolidate their positions in the driver and team championships. Second and fourth on the starting grid for the first race,...
The Monza circuit, European temple of speed, presented a new challenge for the ART Grand Prix team where they managed to consolidate their positions in the driver and team championships. Second and fourth on the starting grid for the first race, Nico Rosberg and Alexandre Premat quickly put themselves in the middle of the action while carrying out several attacks on their direct rivals.
In the first and second turns, Nico tried to go around the outside of the leader, Heikki Kovalainen, but was cut off in his dash as Alexandre Premat went past. A disagreement between the two ART drivers ended in a coming together that saw the French driver in the 'barriers' but fortunately, while the car was damaged, Alexandre's was unharmed. Meanwhile Nico was able to could continue his race.
Falling back to third place, the German driver soon made a move on Nelson Piquet Jr for second in a brilliant move at the second chicane, and set about hunting down Kovalainen. Nico came in for his obligatory pit stop on lap 6, but lost a few seconds in the process. 6 seconds behind Kovalainen, the ART GP driver recorded the fastest lap of the race and managed to catch the Arden driver, but was unable to get past.
The second round saw Nico take his revenge on the championship leader. Starting seventh on the grid, Nico went to work and fought hard to finish in second place to secure a total of 17 points - in comparison to 14 for Kovalainen - to bring the gap down to just four points in the drivers championship.
Alexandre knew that there was little he could hope for in Sunday's race after starting from the back of the grid. The misfortunes of the Frenchman were compensated by the fact that his principal rival, Scott Speed, failed to score. Alexandre therefore consolidated his fourth place with 6 points on the American. In the teams classification, ART Grand Prix has preserved their leader with 31 points on Arden International.
The weekend was positive overall as it enabled us to improve Nico's position in the driver's championship, taking 3 points from Kovalainen's lead, and with ART Grand Prix staying 31 points ahead of Arden International. It was in all a weekend with just one driver as Alexandre dearly paid for the disagreement in the first race. His weekend was ruined by the contact with Nico when he obviously had the potential to finish on the podium once again. Fortunately, Scott Speed also made an error and Alex is still in a good position to secure third place in the championship.
The weekend started well when after some good times in free practice we managed to improve the set-up of the car for qualifying, which enabled me to secure the fourth best time. This was a satisfying result owing to the fact that Nico and Heikki knew the circuit well and I was still to discover it. I had an average start in the first race and found myself in fifth place, but I was soon battling it out with Nico and Piquet. A disagreement between Nico and myself saw an early end to my race. This contact ruined my weekend and I am very disappointed for myself and the team because we could have had a brilliant weekend. Nico recognized his error after the race and it is all okay between us, which will help us to approach the last round of the championship in harmony.
On Sunday, the start was made under safety car, which prevented me from gaining any places at the beginning. After that I chose to learn the circuit and work for the future. My objective was to record the best lap of the race, and I succeeded in doing so before my car became too difficult to control.
The first couple of laps were crazy in race 1. I had a tough start with Heikki. I had a go twice and each time he'd mess up the first part and then that made it hard to go past on the second part. Then there was the collision with Alex. It was a strange situation. I had to see it on TV. Before Alex really drove me close to the grass, then we drifted out towards Piquet. We got pretty close, and to me it looked like he made a little twitch and that's when we made contact^Å but on the other hand I had a few metres of space on the inside so why was I that close? What surprised me was that we touched, but in the end it was just stupid. Alex didn't see where I was, he's told me that. He thinks it's my fault, and I think it was his fault. There's no tension between us anymore now and we will fight together as a team like we have done so far. The pitstop was not perfect. I lost about six seconds to Heikki but I managed to close gap which means we had great pace today. But in the end, having Heikki very close in front of me, it was impossible to pass him. My rear tyres reached their limit as I pitted before him. Getting fastest lap means I keep the same gap to Heikki, and with Scott and my team-mate getting no points it means I don't have to look over my shoulder so much.
Race 2 was great. I came up through the field, and had some good overtaking manoeuvres so I'm really happy. I thought I could fight for the victory on the final lap, but it just didn't work out.