Feature Race (September 10th)
Luca Filippi once again displayed his new found GP2 form at Monza in Saturday’s Feature Race ahead of Charles Pic and new champion Romain Grosjean.
The Italian took the lead off the line ahead of the sluggish Pic, only giving up the top spot when he stopped for tyres at the halfway point of the race.
Unflustered, Filippi maintained his cool in the pack allowing the lead to eventually fall back into his hands, assuming a convincing victory soon thereafter.
The Scuderia Coloni man even claimed the fastest lap not long prior to the chequered flag, although with a gap of over five seconds back to Pic, Filippi had little reason to worry.
Pic’s run to the flag was less certain. Despite having started slowly, Pic kept both Álvaro Parente and Grosjean at bay, with the trio maintaining a close fight until the pitstops.
Unfortunately for Parente, an unsafe pit release into the path of Rodolfo Gonzalez would see the Portuguese runner receive a drive through penalty, dropping him down the order, leaving Grosjean to take the fight to Pic.
Where Parente failed, Grosjean could not improve. During the initial laps following their stops, Pic proved too strong for his DAMS challenger, while in the later laps, Grosjean struggled to make the difference on degrading Pirelli’s.
Sam Bird enjoyed a solid drive to take 4th. After a good start, the iSport racer won an early battle with Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris and Dani Clos, before jumping Adam Carroll (Super Nova) in the pits.
Carroll, too, benefited from a good drive to 5th, just two seconds up on Vietoris at the flag, while Fabio Leimer served a disappointing Saturday race to come 7th, despite qualifying on the second row.
Jules Bianchi garnered the final points scoring position and the pole slot for the Sunday race by coming home 8th. It served as one of the notable performances of the day with Bianchi drafting his way into the top ten by the halfway mark.
The Frenchman helped himself to further positions in the closing tours as Esteban Gutierrez and Luiz Razia fell behind. Bianchi claimed another spot when Clos gained a drive through for pitlane speeding.
Driver of the day was surely Stéphane Richelmi – a late fill-in for the injured Stefano Coletti. After qualifying 24th, Richelmi led briefly after staying out long on his Pirelli’s, finishing 15th when he finally did take his stop.
Michael Herck received a ten-place grid penalty for the Sprint Race after he rammed Max Chilton, Jolyon Palmer and Josef Kral off the road on the second lap; however Herck would not take the start after he injured his hand in the accident.
2011 GP2 Round of Monza (Rd 9, Feature Race, 30 laps) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 47:47.704 2. Charles Pic Barwa Addax +5.627 3. Romain Grosjean DAMS +6.214 4. Sam Bird iSport +9.992 5. Adam Carroll Super Nova +14.904 6. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering +16.710 7. Fabio Leimer Rapax +18.058 8. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +22.787 9. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus-ART +28.444 10. Luiz Razia Racing Engineering +31.661 FL. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 1:33.367
Sprint Race (September 11th)
Christian Vietoris won the final GP2 race of the season at Monza, although Fabio Leimer made sure it was not easy win.
Vietoris made a stunning start from 3rd on the grid to lead before the first corner, swapping with polesitter, Jules Bianchi, whose poor getaway left him scrambling in 3rd spot by turn one.
Leimer momentarily dropped to 3rd when Bianchi locked up and took a short cut over the Variante del Rettifilo; however the Lotus-ART man was quick to give the spot back to Leimer.
While Bianchi’s challenge would fade, Leimer stayed to Vietoris’ rear wing, with the pair rarely separated by more than a second. Through every turn and down each straight the Swiss racer pressed Vietoris to no avail – in every instance, the Racing Engineering driver was too strong.
Bianchi, too, had his work cut out. The Frenchman finished his day trailed by iSport’s Sam Bird and Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni). Indeed, Bianchi’s fight extended beyond this simple race – he was also battling with Filippi for runner-up in the champion. A fight Bianchi lost.
Like the leaders, Bianchi could not pull away from the Bird / Filippi duo, nor could the chasers make the decisive move. Each lap, Bianchi noted first Bird and then Filippi in his mirrors, hoping the latter might encounter some problem.
Alas, Filippi sealed the deal by grabbing the point for fastest lap three laps from the end – Bianchi would have to settle for a solemn podium.
Charles Pic – who held the runner-up spot going into the final race – crashed into champion Romain Grosjean at the first corner, ending any chance of taking the honours.
Realistically, the only person on the move was Adam Carroll, except he was going backward. Starting 4th, an ill-conceived set-up helped Carroll tear his tyres apart in the early laps, as first Bird and Filippi took advantage to demote the Northern Irish man.
For a time, Carroll withstood immense pressure from a seven car pack, led by Esteban Gutierrez, who would not pass until the thirteenth lap, garnering the final points spot. Carroll continued to drop backwards, finishing 11th once Dani Clos, Marcus Ericsson, Luiz Razia and Pål Varhaug had passed.
After nine rounds and eighteen races, the 2011 GP2 season had come to a close with Romain Grosjean a clear an emphatic champion ahead of Luca Filippi.
For their pleasure, Grosjean has now secured himself a drive with Renault, while Pic is to be seated with Virgin, but for Luca Filippi, Jules Bianchi, et al, their time will have to wait – if it ever comes at…
2011 GP2 Round of Monza (Rd 9, Sprint Race, 21 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 32:51.770 2. Fabio Leimer Rapax +0.730 3. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +2.851 4. Sam Bird iSport +3.556 5. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni +4.010 6. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus-ART +10.957 7. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +11.584 8. Marcus Ericsson iSport +16.079 9. Luiz Razia Caterham AirAsia +17.619 10. Pål Varhaug DAMS +19.814 FL. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 1:32.567 2011 GP2 Series (Rd 9.) Drivers’ Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Romain Grosjean 89 2. Luca Filippi 54 3. Jules Bianchi 53 4. Charles Pic 52 5. Giedo van der Garde 49 Teams’ Championship Pos Team Points 1. Barwa Addax 101 2. DAMS 89 3. Racing Engineering 75 3. iSport 70 4. Lotus-ART 68