By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Valsecchi fulfills a dream with Monaco win
- Team AirAsia notches first GP2 victory
- Pic inherits Saturday's Sprint race pole
Davide Valsecchi, like all racers, has dreamed of winning the historic race on the streets of Monte Carlo. Sitting on the front row already fulfilled one of the Italian’s dreams but then to take the GP2 Series Feature race victory on Circuit de Monaco made today even more special.
“It is perfect! I think we dreamed 5,000 times to start on the first row for the race one of Monaco, so it was perfect. Today, before the race, I talked to the team and said that it is my dream, it has always been my dream to start from the first row here,” said Valsecchi in the post-race press conference.
Also my car was incredible, from the beginning to the end.
Even with a late restart near the end of the race, Valsecchi was able to hold off his rivals and even ensured he would set the fastest time of the race on his final lap as he took the checkered flag.
Racing Engineering’s Alvaro Parente ended second followed by Luca Filippi for the Super Nova Racing team.
The Italian also gave the team more reason to celebrate as it was the first GP2 Series win for AirAsia. Valsecchi commented, “Also my car was incredible, from the beginning to the end: in the beginning maybe Parente was the quickest, because it looked like he was really close to me in the first few laps, but after a while he was losing a bit, which was perfect for us: building the gap before the pitstop is the perfect strategy for the leader so that no one will jump you. We were 4 seconds in front, and my team made a good strategy, the pitstop was great and we kept the lead. And then we were so fast! I was able to pull away, and even get the fastest lap at the end, so what we dreamt came true!”
The start of the race was also the downfall of the man on the pole. Sam Bird had the type of start all drivers fear and when the lights went out, his iSport International car nearly stalled. That allowed Valsecchi to pull away while others had to avoid Bird. Parente and Stefano Coletti even touch wheels as they attempted to avoid the championship leader. The co point leader, Giedo van der Garde made his way up to the front followed by Josef Kral and Jules Bianchi as they all headed into Ste Devote.
“I am very happy! I was lucky in the way it turned out at the start, and unlucky at the same time: I managed to avoid Bird, who stalled, and only touched, and I didn't even feel the touch, with Stefano (Coletti), so I was quite lucky that nothing broke. Then we were really good at the beginning, for the first 8 or 10 laps, and I thought that there was something we could do, maybe get him on pit strategy, and then it started to fall off a bit really. But it was great, I did my best and was getting to know everything, tyres and the car, so there's nothing more I can say than it was great, the team did a great job on the pitstop, and it was all good!”, said Parente.
Filippi who had to make his way to the front commented, “This is something that a racing driver dreams about since he's a kid: he is watching the Monaco Grand Prix on TV and he thinks he'll never race here first of all, so already racing here is unbelievable, and going on the podium here is something that not so many people can say. So I lost the podium in the past when I tried to overtake (Timo) Glock: I wanted to risk my fourth place for the podium, and he was very intelligent to just block enough and make me touch the guard rail that time.
“A couple of days ago we were playing soccer at the stadium against the Prince's team, and he is a very nice man: I went to him and asked ‘are you going to present the trophy yourself?’ and he said ‘no, the mayor will present the GP2 because we need to share a little bit’, and I said ‘I will not die until I have a chance to be on the Monaco podium’, because this is what I have dreamed.”
Bird did get going but was far back and had to work his way back up and later he was in a battle for eighth place which would have handed him the Sprint race pole but nothing was set in stone and in the end after contact with his teammate Marcus Ericsson, his race had come to an end.
Yesterday in qualifying the two had a coming together and the stewards handed Ericsson a penalty for today’s grid. However today, the stewards handed Bird the grid penalty for tomorrow’s race. Both iSport drivers were fighting for position starting at Anthony Noghes and continued as they headed into Mirabeau. They exited the famous tunnel with front wing damage to Bird’s car and the rear wing missing from Ericsson’s car. They were the reason for the safety car prior to the race ending.
Besides Valsecchi, the other driver of the hour was Romain Grosjean. Due to a very odd qualifying session yesterday including a grid penalty, he started in the final grid position but it did not take long for the DAMS driver to take on his rivals and fight for a top five finish.
With the mandatory pit stops, slight changes both due to the timing of when one pitted was noted but nothing too significant. Several one-on-one battles took place but with care on the tight circuit which offers little overtaking.
Grosjean gave it a good fight with Filippi but had to settle for fourth, which really was an amazing drive. Coletti for Trident Racing was fifth followed by Arden’s Kral. Oliver Turvey for Carlin was seventh and his teammate Max Chilton would have had the pole for the Sprint race on Saturday but due to Turvey receiving one of those dreaded penalties by the stewards.
Turvey was given a time penalty of 30 seconds for jumping the start. Therefore Chilton moves up to seventh in the scoring chart. He will start on the front row. Charles Pic inherits the pole as he was moved up to 8th in the finish order.