Frenchman leads from lights to flag for second win
Norman Nato dominated this morning’s Sprint Race in Monza, grabbing the lead with a storming start before building a lead which would not be touched for his second win of the season ahead of PREMA teammates Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi.

When the lights went out poleman Mitch Evans had a poor getaway while Jordan King looked to have claimed the lead from P2, but his Racing Engineering teammate had other ideas: Nato eased up the inside into Turn 1 to steal the top spot, while behind them Luca Ghiotto was squeezed between Evans and a fast starting Gasly, with the Red Bull tester nabbing P3 ahead of his rivals.

The field headed for Della Roggia together, and it was soon clear that they were too close: Oliver Rowland tapped Ghiotto into a spin and retirement (picking up a 10 second penalty for the move), with Gustav Malja similarly pushing Evans out of the race (and picking up the same penalty) before also knocking an element off Giovinazzi’s front wing as he looked to get away again, prompting a brief VSC period to remove the stricken cars.

When the race ran live again on lap 2 the order at the front was Nato from King, Gasly, Malja, Giovinazzi and Nobuharu Matsushita, with the Italian quickly taking revenge by claiming the Swede’s scalp on lap 5. The PREMA pair were on their usual hot pace as Gasly hunted down King for lap after lap before striking on lap 9: the Frenchman went outside into Turn 1 to be inside for the chicane exit, before running side by side all the way to Della Roggia for the inside line and P2.

Further back Markelov was repeating his weekend long speed, making short work of mugging Matsushita for P6 and looking for more, as King slowly fell back into his rivals clutches: Giovinazzi eventually stole his podium on lap 17 at Turn 1. Malja was pushing the Briton all round the track, finally getting side by side with him up to Della Roggia on the final lap before cutting the corner, handing a run to the Russian. Up front Nato, Gasly and Giovinazzi ran their own pace to fill the podium, while King just denied P4 to Markelov despite a lunge at the line. Malja’s time penalty promoted Alex Lynn to 6th after mugging Matsushita on the line, while Nicholas Latifi grabbed the final point of the race.

Gasly rebuilt his lead in the drivers’ standings over teammate Giovinazzi a little, leaving Monza with a lead of 174 points to 164, while Marciello remains third on 138 ahead of Sergey Sirotkin on 115 points, King on 112 and Nato on 107, while in the teams’ standings PREMA Racing pulls further away from RUSSIAN TIME, 338 points to 224, ahead of Racing Engineering on 219 points and ART Grand Prix on 175 as thoughts turn to the penultimate round of the season in Malaysia.



One-two finish for ART Grand Prix’s for De Vries and Albon
After showing sterling consistency all season, McLaren protégé and ART Grand Prix rookie Nyck de Vries, was delighted to record his maiden win in the GP3 Series at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for Race 2. After starting from the front row, the Dutchman passed his teammate Alexander Albon for the lead of the race on lap 6. Albon finished second ahead of Trident and Ferrari Driver Academy’s Antonio Fuoco.
Fuoco started his home race from reverse pole and retained P1 at the start with Albon up to second ahead of De Vries. On the second lap, the Thai racer passed the Italian for the lead of the race at Turn 1. Shortly after, De Vries and Nirei Fukuzumi also overtook the Trident driver, but Fuoco fought back to fourth place passing the Japanese driver.
There was contact between Series leader Charles Leclerc and Fukuzumi, with the ART pair both retiring from strong point positions. The safety car was briefly deployed following the incident to tow the cars away. Tatiana Calderon was also caught up in the accident and she had to pit for a new front nose cone.
Once the race resumed, Albon led De Vries, Fuoco, Race 1 winner Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken. On lap six, De Vries challenged his teammate for the lead of the race and marched into P1. The Dutchman built a small margin back to the Thai driver of half a second.
There was a titanic tussle for sixth place between Alex Palou and Sandy Stuvik, with the Trident driver passing the Spaniard after a superb battle. However, the Campos Racing ace wasn’t ready to give up that easily and reclaimed P6. Jenzer Motorsport’s Arjun Maini also decided to join in the fun.

Aitken had a look at his teammate Dennis on the penultimate lap but had to run wide at T1 and lost ground. Meanwhile, De Vries’ lead was up to almost 2s as he continued to lead the field. Maini saved the best until last when he passed Palou on the final lap to grab sixth place.

At the chequered flag, the race belonged to De Vries who drove a mature and confident race to pocket his maiden victory. Albon finished in second ahead of Fuoco, Dennis, Aitken, Maini, Palou and Artur Janosz.
Leclerc now holds a 24 point advantage in the drivers’ standings over Fuoco with Albon in third. ART GP was crowned Team Champion’ after Race 1 with Arden International and Trident completing the top three.
GP3 is back in action at the end of the month when the Series makes its maiden visit to Sepang in Malaysia on September 30th – October 2nd 2016.



Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate at McLaren in 2017; McLaren retain option on Button for 2018

“I definitely need a break,” Button told a news conference. “In 2018 the team have an option for me to drive.”

McLaren described the new arrangement as a “innovative three-driver strategy” which keeps all three drivers on their books for at least another season.

“There is no reason why he [Button] shouldn’t come back and race in 2018,” said McLaren chairman Ron Dennis.

“This is an innovative way of keeping all the advantages by having Jenson still in the team.

“We will see where are in a year. Jenson doesn’t have a desire to drive for other F1 teams. He had offers from other teams for next season but rejected them.



Italian takes fourth GP2 victory at home
Antonio Giovinazzi delighted his home fans after passing countryman Raffaele Marciello on the final lap to win this afternoon’s Feature Race at Monza, taking the top spot from the back of the grid by making the right tyre call and gaining an advantage from a safety car mishap to lead home an Italian 1-2 ahead of Gustav Malja.

When the lights went out all eyes were on poleman Pierre Gasly, who eased away from the fight for P2 between Artem Markelov and Arthur Pic, which saw the Frenchman come off worse and cut the first chicane before returning ahead of the Russian, his countryman Sergey Sirotkin, teammates Jordan King and Norman Nato and local hero Luca Ghiotto, while behind them Giovinazzi only just avoided the stalled car of Sean Gelael before heading on his way once again.

Nato made short work of passing his teammate and Sirotkin to get a better view of the spat between Pic and Markelov, which saw the pair struggling with the first corner as their soft tyres wore down: Marciello and Giovinazzi started on the harder compound and were soon moving forward as their rivals pitted, with the latter easily slicing through his way through the field to close up to his countryman. Up front Gasly was able to easily pull away from his rivals even he had to observe the rules of physics as he finally pitted on lap 12, easily emerging ahead of his pitted rivals and around 20 seconds behind new race leader Marciello.

As the Red Bull man made inroads into the gap up to the front it became clear that the Italian would not be able to pit and return within the ever shrinking gap, but on lap 15 Pic tried to overtake Sergio Canamasas on the inside of Parabolica, with the pair coming together and the Spaniard pitched into a lurid roll: both drivers were out on the spot, and the safety car boards were shown immediately.

The top three on track (Marciello, Malja and Giovinazzi) still had to pit, and took the opportunity to come in as soon as possible: unfortunately for their rivals the safety car didn’t stop in front of the trio as they reemerged but instead in front of Gasly, taking a few laps to deal with the stricken cars before waving the field through and taking up station in front of Marciello, who was able to save rubber on his new soft compounds for when it really mattered, the race restart and the closing laps.

The field took up position behind the trio for a lap 23 restart, and to add a degree of complication the lapped Gelael was between Giovinazzi and Gasly on track, giving the field someone else to overtake as the laps remaining rolled down to zero. Marciello controlled the restart despite pressure from Malja into the first chicane, and with two laps remaining Giovinazzi finally pushed past the Swede on the front straight for P2. With little to lose he then muscled his way by his countryman on the final lap, locked up enormously into the chicane but just held position before tearing away to win by 1.4 seconds at the flag, with Malja a fine third half a second back.

Behind them Gasly was gutted to have lost what looked to be his win, but held on despite enormous late pressure for P4. Behind him countryman Nato crossed the line side by side with Ghiotto, who made a last corner bid for glory but stayed 6th despite finishing with the same time as his rival, ahead of King and with Mitch Evans hanging on for P8 and tomorrow’s pole despite a late charge from Oliver Rowland and Markelov, who had to make do with 9th and 10th respectively.

Gasly will at least have the comfort of maintaining the lead in the drivers’ standings over teammate Giovinazzi, although the Italian has now closed the gap to 8 points, 162 to 154, ahead of Marciello on 138 points, Sirotkin on 115 and Rowland on 106 points ahead of tomorrow morning’s Sprint Race.



ART Grand Prix’s Charles Leclerc extends GP3 Series lead with pole
Scuderia Ferrari Team Development driver Charles Leclerc claimed his third pole of the GP3 season at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza this morning: the Monegasque’s best laptime of 1:38.546 was one tenth quicker than Arden International’s Jake Dennis. Renault Academy’s Jack Aitken made it two Arden drivers in the top three after an eventful qualifying session in Italy.
Dennis was first to lap into the 1m39’s followed by Leclerc who bettered his time by two tenths. ART Grand Prix’s and McLaren protégé Nyck de Vries then headed to the top of the timesheet with DAMS’ Jake Hughes up to third.
Dennis reclaimed provisional pole by 0.020s over the Dutchman with the drivers posting several hot laps before returning to the pitlane at the midway point of the session for new Pirelli rubber. As the drivers waited in the pitlane, Dennis led from De Vries, Aitken, Hughes and Giuliano Alesi.
The final seven minutes of the session were very busy with all of the drivers desperate to get a good position on track to get a tow. There was contact between Trident’s Artur Janosz and Jenzer Motorsport’s Arjun Maini, which resulted in the Indian having to pit for a new front wing. Kevin Jörg also had to pit for a replacement front wing after contact with De Vries.
The session was red flagged when Ferrari Driver Academy’s Alesi stopped on track with technical gremlins. Aitken had taken P1 at this point ahead of title contender Alexander Albon. As the chequered flag was waved, Dennis shot back to the top of the timings but just for a matter of seconds before Haas F1 Team tester Leclerc found some extra pace to lap one tenth quicker than the Briton to snatch pole in the final seconds.
Leclerc’s pole has earned him four more points in the battle for the GP3 crown, whilst the Arden duo of Dennis and Aitken will be eager to show off their tyre management skills and fight for victory with the Monegasque ace. Albon qualified fourth; with Hughes in fifth, however the Brit has a three place grid penalty from Spa-Francorchamps. Jörg, Nirei Fukuzumi, Antonio Fuoco, De Vries and Ralph Boschung complete the top ten with the Koiranen GP driver also having to serve a grid penalty from Hockenheim.

F1Weekly podcast # 710

Nico on Monza
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for magical Monza following his season-best result in Spa.
Nico: “Monza is a great place to go racing. There are so many different destinations on the calendar and there is something special about each one of them, but Monza is legendary. It’s a unique track, with very high speeds and low downforce. The setting in the park of Monza is beautiful: the moment you drive through the gates, you feel all the history of the place coming at you. The tifosi, the Italian fans, add to this combination and create a fantastic vibe.
“Monza is just on the outskirts of Milan, which is a very interesting place, but during a race weekend you’re just too busy to go and explore. The parties on Sunday night are not too bad, though! We go to Italy at the end of the summer and the weather is usually still quite hot. Great weather, great fans, great food – it all adds up to make a very cool race.
“Few tracks push the car to the limit as Monza does. There is no margin for error in the braking zones and every mistake costs you time. In terms of set-up, you need to strike a balance between high speed on the straights and downforce in the corners, but the focus is firmly on top speed. You also need good traction, to make the most of the long straights. We have been doing well on these sort of tracks, so I expect us to be competitive and fighting for points.”
Sergio on Monza
Sergio Perez looks forward to the high-speed challenge of Monza.
Sergio: “After a month off on holiday, Spa was the best way to get back into action. We had a very positive weekend, an exciting race and we’re now fourth in the championship!
“Italy is one of my favourite places: the people are very warm and welcoming, and they’re absolutely crazy for Formula One. The passion you see from the Italian fans reminds me of the atmosphere we saw in Mexico. There’s so much support; everyone is chanting and waving flags and there are so many people asking us for a photo when we arrive at or leave the track.
“I have great memories from Monza and it’s where I’ve had some of my best races. When I was racing in F3, I had the best weekend of my career there: I started 14th in both races and went on to win both. I scored a podium there in Formula One and I’ve always had a special relationship with the track. It’s not just what happens at the venue – I have a lot of good friends living nearby and it’s just a very enjoyable experience.
“As a fan of our sport, I know Monza has a special place in the history of Formula One. It’s one of the circuits where Formula One should always race. It’s so incredibly fast and the key to a quick lap is to be good under braking and have good traction out of the corners. You brake really hard at the end of the straights and the car moves a lot: you run with very little wing and having a good balance is very important.
“You feel the lightness of the car in every corner because you’ve got so little aero load and it’s even hard to keep the steering wheel level on the straights. The two Lesmo corners are crucial: you need to be stable under braking and control your traction – get wheelspin out of the corner and you’ll destroy your tyres. Then you have the Parabolica: it lost a little of its challenge with the tarmac run-off but you still need to be very precise and use the very last inch of track in this interesting corner.”

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The Premiere Motorsport Podcast