American passes Vandoorne for win in feature race
Alexander Rossi came to Monza this weekend to peg back Stoffel Vandoorne’s lead in the drivers’ championship, and this afternoon he did just that: the American trailed the McLaren test driver for lap after lap before blasting past on lap 23 en route to a storming victory in today’s feature race from Vandoorne and Mitch Evans.
Poleman Pierre Gasly made a strong start when the lights went out to hold the lead of the race into Rettifilio, while fellow front row starter Vandoorne was slow off the line, handing Alex Lynn a line inside and through. Further back Rossi, who was P9 out of turn one, had the first lap of his life to cross the line in P5, putting him in prime position to watch Sergey Sirotkin relegate Vandoorne to P4 on the next lap before a safety car emerged for Meindert van Buuren’s broken car after the Dutch rookie found the wall at Ascari.
The race went live again on lap 5, with Vandoorne surprising his rivals by stopping next time through to switch to primes: most of the top ten started on the option tyre, and now had to look at when to stop to avoid the Belgian jumping them all. Gasly stopped from the lead on lap 8, emerging just behind Vandoorne and with a loose right rear to compound his problems, undoing the Frenchman’s good work completely when he soon retired. Lynn, Sirotkin and Rossi stopped next time through, with the Russian making short work of the Series leader for a provisional lead two laps later.
Unfortunately for Sirotkin, Lynn ran too deep at turn one next time through, with the resultant damage eventually halting both men’s races and handing the advantage back to Vandoorne, but Rossi sat behind his rival for lap after lap, waiting for his moment to pounce,  while at the front  Richie Stanaway and Artem Markelov fought tooth and nail to hang onto the lead on track before their eventual stops, ahead of Norman Nato and Rene Binder.
The lead pair finally stopped on lap 21 before re-commencing their battle, with the new lead pairing both stopping next time round as Rossi lined up to strike: on lap 23 the American unleashed, sliding inside Vandoorne at the Rettifillio for the lead of the race. The Belgian threw everything he had at his rival, but the American had him covered for his second win of the season.
Norman Nato finished a fine third on track, but a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane undid his good work, dropping the Frenchman to P6 on the classification: Mitch Evans was the primary beneficiary after a superb drive from 23rd at the start all the way to the podium, making up for yesterday’s disappointment and holding off countryman Richie Stanaway after a late race battle, with Markelov in P5 ahead of Nato. Arthur Pic held off Jordan King, who will start tomorrow’s sprint race from pole, while Robert Visiou and Binder claimed the final points on offer.