PIQUET POWERS TO MONZA RACE 2 WIN
Pedro Piquet grabbed victory in a thrilling GP3 Series Race 2 at Monza, Italy, overtaking Trident teammate Giuliano Alesi on the penultimate lap to take his second win of the season. The two had duelled for the lead all race long, and finished 0.4s apart as Callum Ilott overtook ART Grand Prix teammate and championship rival Anthoine Hubert to secure third.
Taking the initiative at the start, Piquet got past polesitter Richard Verschoor off the line, and was followed through by Alesi at the first chicane as the pair immediately began to bolt into the distance – while a touch between Hubert and Nikita Mazepin thrust Ilott into the path of a fast-starting Niko Kari, who had to pit with a broken front wing.
Piquet and Alesi were side-by-side on the start/finish straight at the end of the first lap, before a safety car was called for a collision between Juan Manuel Correa and Gabriel Aubry at Serraglio – the American ran onto the grass and collected Aubry, and the resulting debris required a prompt clean-up. Adjudged to have been ahead, Piquet led Alesi away on the lap 5 restart, before the Frenchman immediately made a challenge into turn 1. Going too deep, Alesi had to take to the escape road while Hubert cleared Verschoor to join the top three.
Looking to edge clear of DRS range from Alesi, Piquet set a fastest lap at the end of lap 6, but was unable to escape the advances of his teammate. Two laps later, Alesi had DRS and challenged into the first chicane, but ultimately made his play for the lead into Curva Grande – emerging from the Variante della Roggia with the lead. Verschoor, meanwhile, continued his descent and dropped behind Ilott after going wide, sliding into the clutches of Race 1 winner Beckmann and Mazepin, who had fallen to eighth. They eventually cleared the Dutchman, but Beckmann ran deep and lost a further position to the Russian driver.
Hubert joined the battle for the lead, challenging Piquet and bringing Ilott along for the ride, but was unable to make a pass into the first chicane as the Tridents stood side by side on the corner entry. He looked to be in contention for second with a strong run on Piquet on lap 11, but endured a heavy lockup and almost fell behind Ilott, who had a resurgent Mazepin for company.
With Hubert seemingly occupied, Piquet went back in search of the lead, and on the next lap poked his car down the inside of Alesi at the first corner, but hadn’t counted on inch-perfect positioning from his teammate ahead of Curva Grande, where Alesi reclaimed the advantage. The top six were all within three seconds of each other, and Hubert had come back at Piquet on lap 13 with DRS – although a pass seemed to be possible, the Series leader was more circumspect and elected not to force his way past Piquet.
Ilott then punished Hubert, looming large in his mirrors until he was able to take DRS into turn 1, passing his championship rival and taking third place. Piquet was then freed up for another run at Alesi, but entered the final few laps with just one DRS activation available. Ultimately, the Brazilian didn’t need it, and pounced on an Alesi slide into turn 1 on lap 16 to set himself up into Curva Grande; dancing to the inside of his teammate into the subsequent chicane, Piquet managed to power past his teammate for the lead. The two continued to do battle into the final lap, Alesi attempting a last-gasp move into turn 4, but Piquet held on to secure back-to-back wins for Trident at Monza.
Ilott came under heavy pressure from Hubert at the end, with Mazepin also joining the fight for third place, but all ultimately retained their positions at the chequered flag as Hughes passed Beckmann late on for sixth. Tatiana Calderon completed the scorers with eighth place.
Hubert leaves Monza with a 27-point lead over Ilott in the standings, with Mazepin a further 14 points behind. ART Grand Prix currently have 519 points in the teams’ standings, with Trident on 368 and Campos Racing with 117.