Mitch Evans has put in a storming drive from the back of the grid to grab a podium finish at the GP2 Series Feature race at Monza, as part of the Italian F1 Grand Prix weekend.
“I had a decent start and first lap, and at the safety car I was 16th or 17th I think, which was okay,” commented Evans. “I still had P8 in my sights and thought that was realistic at that stage, so I went long on the option and was one of the last to stop, and then I just pinged them off through both stints really.
“Then I thought I was good for P5, and the guys came on the radio and said if I could get Pic I was on for a podium because Norman [Nato] had a penalty, and that was a bit of a surprise.
“I just wanted to keep it on track and bring it home, so it was a massive surprise! Obviously yesterday was a huge kick in the guts – it was nothing intentional and a complete accident – so it was good to come back and really show what speed we’ve got now, which is great. It’s so good to have the car back to performing well and back underneath me, and I think today really proved that.”
Alexander Rossi came to Monza this weekend to peg back Stoffel Vandoorne’s lead in the drivers’ championship, and this afternoon he did just that: the American trailed the McLaren test driver for lap after lap before blasting past on lap 23 en route to a storming victory in today’s feature race from Vandoorne and Mitch Evans.
Poleman Pierre Gasly made a strong start when the lights went out to hold the lead of the race into Rettifilio, while fellow front row starter Vandoorne was slow off the line, handing Alex Lynn a line inside and through. Further back Rossi, who was P9 out of turn one, had the first lap of his life to cross the line in P5, putting him in prime position to watch Sergey Sirotkin relegate Vandoorne to P4 on the next lap before a safety car emerged for Meindert van Buuren’s broken car after the Dutch rookie found the wall at Ascari.
The race went live again on lap 5, with Vandoorne surprising his rivals by stopping next time through to switch to primes: most of the top ten started on the option tyre, and now had to look at when to stop to avoid the Belgian jumping them all. Gasly stopped from the lead on lap 8, emerging just behind Vandoorne and with a loose right rear to compound his problems, undoing the Frenchman’s good work completely when he soon retired. Lynn, Sirotkin and Rossi stopped next time through, with the Russian making short work of the Series leader for a provisional lead two laps later.
Unfortunately for Sirotkin, Lynn ran too deep at turn one next time through, with the resultant damage eventually halting both men’s races and handing the advantage back to Vandoorne, but Rossi sat behind his rival for lap after lap, waiting for his moment to pounce, while at the front Richie Stanaway and Artem Markelov fought tooth and nail to hang onto the lead on track before their eventual stops, ahead of Norman Nato and Rene Binder.
The lead pair finally stopped on lap 21 before re-commencing their battle, with the new lead pairing both stopping next time round as Rossi lined up to strike: on lap 23 the American unleashed, sliding inside Vandoorne at the Rettifillio for the lead of the race. The Belgian threw everything he had at his rival, but the American had him covered for his second win of the season.
Norman Nato finished a fine third on track, but a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane undid his good work, dropping the Frenchman to P6 on the classification: Mitch Evans was the primary beneficiary after a superb drive from 23rd at the start all the way to the podium, making up for yesterday’s disappointment and holding off countryman Richie Stanaway after a late race battle, with Markelov in P5 ahead of Nato. Arthur Pic held off Jordan King, who will start tomorrow’s sprint race from pole, while Robert Visiou and Binder claimed the final points on offer.
Feature Race results
1 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering
2 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix
3 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME
4 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix
5 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
6 Norman Nato Arden International
7 Arthur Pic Campos Racing
8 Jordan King Racing Engineering
9 Robert Visoiu Rapax
10 Rene Binder MP Motorsport
11 Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus
12 Julian Leal Carlin
13 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing
14 André Negrao Arden International
15 Raffaele Marciello Trident
16 Simon Trummer Hilmer Motorsport
17 Patric Niederhauser Daiko Team Lazarus
18 Johnny Cecotto Trident
19 Jann Mardenborough Carlin