RUSSIAN TIME GP2 Series, Monaco Race 1, May 23, 2014


Nineteen-year-old Kiwi Mitch Evans finished a fighting second in the prestigious Monaco GP2 feature event. He was just half a second behind winner Jolyon Palmer after an incident-packed race with a stoppage and two safety car periods.

Split qualifying sessions at Monaco meant that Evans was scheduled to start third despite setting the second quickest qualifying lap. He got a good break when post-qualifying penalties saw him start from the outside of the front row. On the option (supersoft) Pirelli tyre, he took full advantage to beat pole man Palmer into the first corner and led confidently until his tyres dropped off 10 laps into the race’s 42.

A race stoppage at that point allowed the teams to change tyres before the restart, although they still needed to complete an additional mandatory tyre stop. Evans then drove a fine race to properly launch RT Russian Time’s 2014 title defence after problematic outings in Bahrain and Spain, the chequered flag shown two laps early as the race reached its one-hour maximum.

Rookie Russian Artem Markelov made strong progress after suffering a grid penalty at the previous race in Barcelona, running 16th before being an innocent victim when he was T-boned by Arden’s Rene Binder at the harbour front chicane.

Mitch Evans: “Everything was feeling pretty good but the option tyres grained up and I was just about to make a pit stop when the race was red-flagged. We changed tyres and made a set-up adjustment on the grid, which helped. I had a close one with Coletti when he attacked into the last corner and I only just saw him. You want to win, obviously, but second is a good result and I have to be happy.”

Artem Markelov: “I got hit quite early in the race when there was some chaos at the hairpin but the car felt okay and I kept pushing. I was trying to overtake Kimiya Sato and went to the right after the tunnel. Binder went for the inside. I don’t know why he didn’t anticipate what happened, but he just pushed me straight out. Monaco is.... different. Overtaking is right on the limit. What can you do?”

Paul Jackson, Team Manager: “As is so often the case here in Monaco, that one was busy! There were different strategies at the front and we chose to start on the option tyre. Mitch made the most of them to lead but then paid when they grained. The red flag negated a lot of the strategy but meant that lapped early stoppers got their lap back, which worked well for drivers like Nasr, who finished third, but really put the pressure on the front-runners. Both DAMS and us were nursing options at the end and Mitch drove a really fine race. ‘Finely-judged’ is how I’m going to call it!”

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