LUCA FILIPPI BACK TO THE TOP FOR HOME VICTORY AT MONZA…
Luca Filippi has claimed a dominant win on his return to the series with a strong start and some judicious overtaking at his home circuit to take the chequered flag in this afternoon’s feature race in Monza, ahead of Johnny Cecotto and Marcus Ericsson.
The win was set up with a solid start as poleman Max Chilton moved across to cover his rivals: the Italian was the first man to the Rettifilo, but was unable to slow down enough to make the second part of the chicane. Filippi ceded ground to the Briton but led Ericsson, Davide Valsecchi and Cecotto around his home circuit as he waited for the pitstops.
With hot and sunny conditions, and little in the way of collisions, there was no need for the field to pit early, and so it was simply a case of who blinked first: Filippi, Valsecchi and Fabio Leimer came in on lap 8 (the Swiss driver and series leader Luiz Razia coming together on his outlap), forcing Chilton and Ericsson to pit next time by. The Briton emerged side by side with Filippi, who popped out of the tow for a pass between Lesmo and Ascari to put one hand on the trophy.
Cecotto stayed out, and in the lead, until lap 13, eventually emerging just in front of Ericsson and looking for more while, behind them, Leimer and Felipe Nasr came together at Roggia: the Brazilian was out on the spot while the Swiss driver started to hunt down Valsecchi. The pressure 5 laps later, with the Italian cutting the corner at Roggia and having to hand track position to his rival.
Chilton was losing ground to Filippi, and was clearly struggling: Cecotto made short work of the Briton at the Rettifilo on lap 20, with Ericsson repeating the move 2 laps later while Filippi ran away, building up an unassailable lead. And when the flag dropped he eased back to win from Cecotto by 4 seconds, with Ericsson one second behind, and Chilton holding on for P4. Leimer was the next man across the line (and holder of the fastest lap), while Valsecchi finished in 6th but looking in his mirrors at Joylon Palmer. Stefano Coletti mugged Esteban Gutiérrez for P8 and tomorrow’s reverse pole in the closing laps, with Julian Leal staying out long to claim the final points position in 10th.
Razia’s retirement meant that Valsecchi has reclaimed his lead in the driver’s championship, 212 points to the Brazilian’s 204, while James Calado stays on 160, ahead of Gutierrez on 152. The Lotus pair combine for 312 points in the team’s title, ahead of DAMS on 297 and Arden on 208, with more to play for in tomorrow morning’s sprint race.