Following a successful opening round of the 2016 GP2 Series in Barcelona, Racing Engineering travels to Monaco with the intention of winning again.
The team's new pairing of Norman Nato and Jordan King both found the podium at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the Frenchman winning on his Racing Engineering debut. Nato lies second in the drivers' championship heading to Monaco and would like nothing more than to win just a few miles down the road from his hometown of Cannes.
“It's like a dream when you are young to drive on this circuit,” he admitted, “What is funny for me is that I'm used to driving in these streets during the year with my road car but, obviously, it's not the same driving style. A street circuit is really different to compare to where we usually drive, and you need to be even more confident than on a normal circuit if you want to be fast.”
In a change to the normal GP2 programme, practice and qualifying will take place on Thursday and, for qualifying, the drivers will be split into two groups, with one driver from each team in each group in a bid to avoid overcrowding on the track.
“Qualifying will be very important, as it is quite difficult to overtake without taking a lot of risks,” Nato noted, “My goal is to fight for pole position and victory to be able to lead the championship after Monaco.”
The feature race will be run on Friday morning and the sprint race on Saturday afternoon as GP2 bends its usual schedule to fit in with the storied past of the Principality's blue riband weekend.
“It is the history of the Monaco GP that makes it special for us,” Nato continued, “We all know that only the best drivers manage to win this grand prix, so it is therefore a great motivation to be part of history. It is even more special for me this year as it's been exactly 20 years since my good friend Olivier Panis won the Monaco Grand Prix in F1. I will have his helmet colours on this occasion and will do everything I can to achieve the same performance that he did 20 years ago.”
Victory in Barcelona came somewhat out of the blue for Nato, but he was optimistic of being at the sharp end after a positive build-up to the season and now hopes to carry his form from Spain to Monaco.
“I didn't know what to expect in terms of results but, after a good preparation during the pre-season tests, I knew we had the opportunity to have a good first weekend,” he said, “We were always classified in the top five during the pre-season test days with the two best times overall, so I knew we could achieve a strong performance in Barcelona. However, a race meeting is always different from testing…
“I don't live far from Monaco, so I will get the support from my friends and family. I have high expectations for this race event and will try to have the same weekend I had two years ago [with pole position, victory and fastest lap in FR3.5