Round nine of the 2014 season took the GP2 circus to the Autodromo di Monza, one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, for the last European race. New Zealander Mitch Evans settled well into the race weekend with fourth place in practice.
With dark clouds hanging over the track in afternoon’s qualifying, the drivers were eager to get out on track to set a time. Evans had a good first run but on the second one, he was able to improve and qualified third, with Stoffel Vandoorne taking pole ahead of Athur Pic.
‘The balance shift from free practice to qualifying was quite big and I did feel better in the morning. I noticed a difference between the two compounds and found the first set trickier. The field is close together and I’m very happy with my result today, I’ve qualified in the top three for the second consecutive race which shows we’re on the right way.’
Saturday’s 30-lap feature race was rather uneventful for the top three, who finished in the order they qualified. Evan’s strategy was compromised through an issue with the team radio, but the 20- year old Aucklander held on to third place, securing his fourth podium finish of the season.
‘We lacked a bit of pace in the middle part of the race and I wasn’t very happy with the balance,’ said Evans. ‘It was warmer than yesterday and I had to manage the tyres much more, I had a lot of tyre deg on the option. At the start of the prime stint I was meant to pit earlier, but we had some radio problems so I couldn’t hear the call from the team. The balance improved in the last six laps and I caught up with the guys in the front again. It wasn’t enough to improve my starting position but I’m still very happy with third.’
Mitch started Sunday morning’s sprint race in sixth place with a good launch climbing up to fifth. After two collisions in the first lap, the safety car came out and when the race resumed a few laps later, Stefano Coletti in sixth jumped Mitch and Andre Negrao into the first chicane. With three laps to go, Evans tried to go round the outside of Negrao, made contact and damaged his suspension which forced him to retire.
‘I got a good start again today, making up a place. The car didn’t feel great when the race resumed but it got better after a few laps. Towards the end of the race I was battling with Negrao down the straight and I tried to get past him around the outside of turn one, but he didn’t give me the room I needed so we made contact which damaged the front suspension and was the end of my race. We’ve got a bit of a gap now to the next event, so we’ll keep working on the car to get the best possible package for the next race.’
Mitch is still in 5th position with 125 points.
Round 10 takes place in Sochi, Russia on October 11/12.
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