Alexander Rossi leaves the action of Monaco second in the driver rankings following a strong weekend during the third round of the 2015 GP2 Series season. An outstanding pole position during a wet qualifying showcased the skill and strength of both Alexander and Racing Engineering, and a podium along with more points places Alexander a full 21 points clear of Rio Haryanto in third place.
With a slightly different format to most race weekends, practice took place on Thursday with cooler than anticipated conditions on the streets of Monaco; with air and track temperatures of 14C and 21C respectively. Alexander was first out and immediately set the pace, improving on each flying lap to remain top of the time sheets. 15 minutes into the session Alexander returned to the pits for some set-up changes, and returned to the track to set a 1:21.610s. One final pitstop for supersoft tyres in the closing minutes positioned the Racing Engineering driver with a strong finish going faster still with a 1:20.775s finishing second overall in practice.
The weather then deteriorated during the break between sessions and qualifying took place in very wet conditions. Due to the high volume of GP2 Series cars, qualifying in Monaco takes place a little differently, with the odd and even numbers split into two sessions. Alexander, in Group B, waited while his teammate and competitors in Group A took to the track to try out their best times. The conditions remained the same for Group B, with all drivers running on the wet tyres. Alexander, confident in challenging conditions, immediately set the pace with a 1:45.808s and continued to improve his time as the session progressed.With minutes to go, Alexander then took nearly two seconds off his time on his next lap to keep P1, and continued pushing to better his time. On the final lap, Alexander managed to find even more time, crossing the line with a lap of 1:37.019, six tenths faster than the next man, and claiming pole position in Monaco.
Friday’s Feature Race was set against a more typical Monaco backdrop with warm and sunny weather and air and track temperatures of 19C and 28C respectively. Alexander’s strategy meant he would start on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft compound tyres, while the second place man Marciello opted for the P Zero Red supersoft tyres. The original start was aborted after a car stalled on the grid, however Alexander managed the pressure and made a clean get away once the race began. Alexander lost a place to Marciello initially, who had the advantage of extra grip from the supersoft tyres, however the Racing Engineering car was soon lapping at a similar pace to the Trident car. Within two laps Alexander had closed the gap to just 0.2 seconds as his harder tyres now gave the advantage. Marciello had to pit, putting Alexander back in the lead, and battling Vandoorne in second place behind.
The fight between the two leaders of the series continued for ten laps, with the gap less than a second between them. However a collision elsewhere on lap 19 meant the Virtual Safety Car came into play. Both drivers took their mandatory pitstop on lap twenty, however Vandoorne was able to clinch the lead as the cars exited the pit lane after an issue with a rival team’s pit equipment compromised Alexander’s stop. The final laps Alexander and Vandoorne traded quick laps, while managing the P Zero Red supersoft tyres. Lap 22 brought out another Virtual Safety Car period following debris on track, and the gap between Alexander and Stoffel had closed to less than a second. However in the final stages of the race, both drivers pace fell off due to the tyre degradation, and Alexander took the chequered flag in second place.
Saturday’s Sprint Race was once more set against warm conditions and clear weather. Following the reverse grid format, Alexander lined up in P7, with everything to play for in the final race on the streets of Monaco. A good start allowed Alexander to fly up the inside of Pic, however as the field bunched into the first corner, cold tyres and brakes meant he was pushed into the back of the Campos Racing car, and suffered damage to his car’s nose. After that early incident, the race soon settled down with Alexander close behind Pic in his original P7. With Vandoorne in P8, Alexander began trading fastest laps (worth extra points) but was unable to improve on his position and took the flag in seventh. Alexander nursed the damaged car throughout the race and bringing home more points and just .0020 off the fastest lap.
In all three races of the 2015 GP2 Series season, Alexander has consistently brought home points in every race, with both he and the team now second in their respective rankings. The next round will take place from the 18th – 21st July in Austria, after a short break for the competitors.
Alexander Rossi: “It’s been a very strong weekend. Obviously claiming pole in Monaco was good, although I’m a bit disappointed we were not able to convert the win due to pit lane issue. However pole and 2nd place around Monaco is not bad, and we were very strong all weekend. Leading the feature race at the pit stop, we lost the win and top step due to small issue from a rival team. After Stoffel jumped us in pitlane I knew it would be very difficult to regain first position. Monaco is notoriously impossible to overtake if your trading quick laps with your rival.
“Saturday’s race was about scoring points, staying clean and keeping Vandoorne behind me; we achieved all of that! The first corner incident compromised my race a little but still almost had quickest lap with a broken nose.
“I want to thank Racing Engineering for providing such a phenomenal car again – it’s a pleasure to push the limits in their equipment and there is nothing like it around Monaco; one of the all-time greatest tracks in my opinion. The team is great, the car was great and second is a strong position to be in after three rounds.”
Rossi 2015 Partners Include:
Alaska Coffee Roasting, Kiton, CS&A, Arai, Axcel Fast Graphics, FIA Institute Young Driver’s Excellence Program
Alexander Rossi in 40 Seconds
From 191 Formula car starts, 24 year old Alexander has: 39 wins, 71 podiums, 36 poles and current win percentage of 20.4%.
• 2015 Racing Engineering GP2 Series Race Driver
• 2014 Marussia F1 Team Official Reserve Driver
• 2014 Caterham F1 Official Reserve Driver
• 2014 Caterham Racing GP2 Series Race Driver – partial season
• 2013 Caterham Racing GP2 Series Race Driver – 8th Overall & Rookie of the Year
• 2013 Caterham F1 Team Official Reserve Driver
• 2012 Caterham F1 Team Official Test Driver
• 2011 World Series by Renault – 3rd Overall and Rookie Champion
• 2011 AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program
• 2011 FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy
• 2010 ART Grand Prix GP3 – 4th Overall Championship
• 2009 BMW Sauber F1 Testing – F1 Superlicense Qualifications
• 2009 GP2 Asia / Meritus Racing and Ocean Racing – 9th Overall, 3 Top 5 Finishes
• 2009 International Formula Master Championship / ISR Racing – 4th Overall and Rookie Champion
• 2008 Formula BMW World Champion, 1st Place
• 2008 Formula BMW Americas 1st Champion, 10 wins
• 2007 Formula BMW Americas 3rd Overall, 3 wins
• 2006 Skip Barber National Series, 3rd Overall, 4 wins
• 2006 Skip Barber Western Regional Series, 1st Champion