Following on from today’s GP2 qualifying session at Monza, the race stewards have handed penalties to four drivers.
Mitch Evans, who finished the session in P2, has been excluded from the results after it was found that the tyre pressure of his RUSSIAN TIME car was below the minimum required. The New Zealander will be permitted to start tomorrow’s feature race from the back of the grid, and this promotes Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne to a front row start with Alex Lynn now starting from P3.
Sergio Canamasas received the same penalty as Evans after the tyre pressure on his Lazarus car was also found below the minimum required. As a result the Spaniard, who had qualified ninth, has also been excluded from the results and will be allowed to start from the back of the grid.
Marlon Stockinger was penalised after it was determined that he impeded Rene Binder between Turns 10 and 11. As a consequence, the Status Grand Prix driver, who had qualified in P21, was handed a 3 place grid drop.
Finally, newcomer Meindert van Buuren was found guilty of impeding teammate Binder between the same corners, with the Dutch driver also receiving a three grid position penalty. Since he had qualified in P25 and will not be able to take his penalty in full, van Buuren will start tomorrow’s race from the pit lane.
Pierre Gasly broke his rivals’ hearts with a stunning lap late in qualifying to claim his first GP2 pole this afternoon in Monza, repeating his efforts from this morning’s free practice to steal the top spot from Mitch Evans and Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Red Bull test driver stopped the clocks at 1:31.272, two tenths to the good over his rivals in a dramatically close session at the Autodromo, which opened to the usual hot and sunny conditions known well to the teams, with all drivers on track immediately to take advantage of the rubber laid down by the F1 teams just moments before.
Sergey Sirotkin was the first man on track, and the Russian set the early running: five minutes in and Sirotkin led McLaren tester Vandoorne, Gasly and Evans around the circuit, with each driver going successively quicker to claim the top of the timesheets. By the time most of the field returned to the pits it looked as though the New Zealander had done enough to annex pole, with the Belgian finding a little more time next time round to slot in behind him.
With Alexander Rossi running almost alone on circuit on a different schedule to most of his rivals, eyes up and down the pitlane were watching the American’s times to see if there could be any improvement. By the time they all re-emerged the drivers largely spent their time dealing with the traffic caused by that many cars on track at the same time, but Gasly threaded the needle to find enough space to steal the top spot with six minutes remaining.
His rivals eased off in the hope of saving enough tyres for a last ditch run, but it was not to be as the clock wound down to zero, handing Gasly the honours in an incredibly close session which saw 16 drivers within a second of pole, and everyone within two. Alex Lynn, Sirotkin, Rio Haryanto, Arthur Pic and Richie Stanaway will all be burning the midnight oil with their teams tonight, looking to find a way to jump the top three in tomorrow’s feature race.
Qualifying results (Top 7) – amended
1 1 P. Gasly DAMS 1:31.272
2 5 S. Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:31.478
3 2 A. Lynn DAMS 1:31.615
4 18 S. Sirotkin Rapax 1:31.640
5 15 R. Haryanto Campos Racing 1:31.898
6 14 A. Pic Campos Racing 1:31.938
7 23 R. Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1:31.985