GP3: Rossi unstoppable in Barcelona
9 May 2010
Alexander Rossi was in a class of his own in the second GP3 Series race of the weekend in Barcelona, finishing 9.6secs ahead of his nearest rival to claim an easy victory.
The American driver kept his head and made the perfect start from pole position, disappearing into the distance as chaos erupted in his wake, and then making the perfect restart to lead home Lucas Foresti and ART team-mate Esteban Gutierrez.
Having qualified a lowly 28th on Saturday, Rossi had powered his way through the field in race one, finishing in the coveted eighth spot to start on pole for Sunday's second race. When Michael Christensen missed his grid slot, it meant a second formation lap, leaving Rossi with another long wait whilst the 30-strong field lined up behind him, but the American kept his cool and his race was won from the start.
As the lights went out, fourth place man Jean-Eric Vergne made an aggressive start, pushing Jenzer's Simon Trummer wide and leaving the Swiss driver with nowhere to go but the grass. Determined to hold position, Vergne then shot across the track, squeezing Foresti off the tarmac on the opposite side of the road, before eventually losing out to the brave Brazilian.
Vergne was later penalised with a drive-through for his over-exuberant moves, but that came as little consolation to Saturday race winner Pal Varhaug and Italy's Mirko Bortolotti, who both found themselves casualties of Vergne's moves. With Trummer pushed wide, Varhaug had nowhere to go but onto the grass on the left-hand side of the track, sending the young Norwegian spinning and a helpless Bortolotti with no room to avoid the Jenzer machine.
Rossi, meanwhile, was out in front, leading a recovering Foresti, while Gutierrez made a lightning start to move up into third. Further down the grid, ART's Pedro Nunes found a way through the ensuing chaos, going from twelfth to seventh before the safety car was called out to clear debris from the start-finish straight.
With twelve laps remaining, Rossi powered away on the restart, with the rest of the field getting cleanly into turn one. Gutierrez lined up Foresti to take second, the two drivers going wheel-to-wheel until the Mexican ended up going wide and gifted the place to Vergne, the Tech 1 driver yet to be called for his penalty. Robert Wickens then put a move on Dean Smith, moving himself up behind Gutierrez and creating a repeat of Saturday's race battle. With Gutierrez stuck behind Vergne until the Frenchman was penalised, he remained a target for the Canadian Status GP driver, while Smith retained a watching brief.
“I don't think that me or Rossi made a good start and I had to fight hard to keep my place," Foresti commented, "I was pushed really wide at the start and lost a bit of my front wing, but somehow managed to stay second. Gutierrez put me under a lot of pressure, but I just wanted to run my own race and not make any mistakes. It was
really important to stay completely focused and I was concentrating 100 per cent the whole race.”
Rossi continued putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, while the Wickens-Gutierrez battle went right to the final corner, allowing Smith to move in behind the pair with just two laps remaining. Vergne's penalty, meanwhile, gifted the final point of the race to racy Nunes as, despite his best efforts, James Jakes was unable to pinch the position on the run to the line.
“I'm really happy with today's race," Rossi admitted, "We knew after yesterday that it is difficult to pass here so I needed a good start. Luckily, I avoided all of the problems and the start and I just focused on my own race and what I needed to do. I had pace during the race and, after the disappointment yesterday, I wanted to make sure I set the fastest lap for the extra point today. It's a great result to head into the next round.”
Trummer, Renger van der Zande, Luca Cordiero and Miki Monras all received drive-through penalties for failing to slow for yellow flags, and Spaniard Monras' day got worse when he was subsequently penalised for speeding in the pit-lane.
After two solid results, Wickens leads the series going into the next round in Turkey - GP3 does not race in Monaco - with eleven points.
“My goal coming into weekend was to leave with the points lead," the former World Series by Renault revealed, "There are 30 very ambitious drivers out there, and you have to take the points when you can. I got alongside Gutierrez but really didn't want to take risks and opted for the three points instead. It's a fantastic start to my season and great to leave Barcelona at the top of the points.”