Saturday May 26, 2012
Monaco has a reputation as a car-breaker, but the principality’s first ever GP3 Series race passed off largely without incident this morning – a tribute to the youngsters taking part.
MW Arden duo David Fumanelli and Mitch Evans formed part of the front-running group from the start. They lined up fifth and fourth respectively, but swapped places during the opening lap and then held station to the end.
The race was rather more challenging for team-mate Matias Laine. The Finn failed to qualify within 107 per cent of the pole position time, following an accident at Rascasse what should have been a quick lap, but officials allowed him to start from the final row of the grid. With overtaking opportunities at a premium, however, he was able to climb only to 21st.
“I really enjoyed free practice, because I’d been looking forward to learning the circuit. I took it easy at first, but began to push harder as the session went on. In Monaco of all places, it is vital to complete as many laps as possible to prepare for the race ahead.
“The car felt well balanced during qualifying and I was very happy with my lap time, just 0.2s away from pole. I could have been faster, too, had I not made a small mistake in the second sector. Even so, fifth place put me in good shape.
“I got away well, but the car didn’t feel quite as good as it had before. I managed to pass Mitch on the opening lap, though, and then had to keep an eye on my mirrors for the rest of the race because he was rarely far behind. The top three pulled a couple of seconds on me during the first few laps and I was unable to claw that back, so I just tried to maintain a good rhythm and look after the car. I have another decent grid position tomorrow, so I hope to make a flying start and convert that into my first GP3 podium.”
“Fifth place isn’t too bad, but it’s a little frustrating given how quick the car has been so far. As always, though, it’s a matter of being able to put together a clean lap at the right time and that simply hasn’t happened. The car felt competitive from the start and I think that was clear during free practice, when I was seven tenths clear of the rest. I was in the first of the split qualifying sessions, though, and improving track conditions meant the second was always likely to be faster, so pole was always going to be a long shot. I ended up second in the group, which put me fourth on the grid, but although I made a good start I was only able to hold that position until David dived past during the opening lap. The race settled down after that. I always felt I was potentially quicker than some of the cars ahead, but David drove a strong, error-free race and there was simply no way though. I’m fourth on the grid again tomorrow so a podium finish is clearly achievable, but you can’t take anything for granted – particularly at a circuit like this, where the margin for error is so small.”
“I was happy with the car after free practice and knew exactly what changes to make for qualifying. Unfortunately, I then slid off the road at Rascasse on my first flying lap. I braked in exactly the same place as before, but guess the track was a bit more slippery than I’d anticipated. After starting at the back, I knew I’d spend most of the race looking at other drivers’ gearboxes, but my pace was good on the rare occasions I was able to show it. Tomorrow’s race will also be difficult, but I’m hoping for some rain – that might make passing a bit easier.”