Mitch Evans will start the Monte Carlo GP2 feature race third on the grid as RT Russian Time sets out to repeat 2013 champion Sam Bird’s win in the Principality.
Nineteen-year-old Kiwi Evans is looking to improve on his third place finish in last year’s race, and actually set the second quickest lap of qualifying (1:21.188), beaten only by DAMS driver and championship leader Jolyon Palmer (1:20.774). However, the tight confines of the demanding street circuit mean that qualifying is split into two groups and thus Evans starts behind Palmer and Rio Haryanto (1:21.433), who topped the session for even-numbered cars.
Russian GP2 rookie Artem Markelov, also 19, adopted a mature approach to his first sighting of the daunting 2.06 mile Monaco circuit, finding a two-second improvement between morning practice time and his qualifying best (1:23.347). Markelov was mindful of the fact that he would suffer a five-place grid penalty as a result of his contact with Simon Trummer in the previous Barcelona race.
Mitch Evans: “I’m satisfied with that. I put a good lap together and third is a decent place to start at a circuit on which overtaking is so difficult. The DAMS time was a strong one but it is positive news to be quicker than everyone else, even if I have to start behind Haryanto. I will be doing my best to make a clean start and attack from there over the 42 laps.”
Artem Markelov: “I saw that one of the F1 drivers said that the barriers seem very close here when you first go out, but that they get further away as the weekend goes on. I can understand that now! It is a very challenging circuit but I enjoyed it and the main focus for me was to push as hard as could and to constantly improve without hitting anything.”
Paul Jackson, Team Manager: “Mitch did a very good job and put himself in a strong position to challenge for at least a podium in tomorrow’s race. For Artem, who has never even seen the place before, GP2 cars are a bit brutal here and it was an awfully big ask to have just one practice session and then go straight into qualifying. It’s so easy to have an accident here and then you never catch up, so he should be complimented on his sensible approach and the time he found between practice and qualifying. To be less than 2s away from the session best on his first sighting of Monte Carlo is a very decent effort.”