PREVIEW: GP2 Series – The Thrills and Spills hit Monaco


Pierre Gasly - Credit: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service

The streets of Monaco is the destination for round two of the 2016 GP2 Series season, and after the excitement of the opening round in Spain, it can be expected to be another interesting weekend around the slowest and tightest track on the calendar.

Pierre Gasly left the Circuit de Catalunya with the championship lead after two podium finishes, but the Red Bull-backed Prema Racing driver continues to see that first win in the series elude him, having found himself lose out to surprise winner Norman Nato in race one.

Nato’s performance in Spain came under the radar after not being expected to be amongst those challenging for honours this season, but his move to Racing Engineering from Arden International seemed to pay off for the Frenchman.

British racer Jordan King confirmed Racing Engineering are likely to be one of the top teams in 2016 by securing his second podium finish of his GP2 career in the Sprint race having finished seventh in the Feature.

Alex Lynn was victorious in the Sprint race in Spain, and currently sits behind Frenchmen Gasly and Nato in the championship standings, but his performance and the strong results for DAMS team-mate Nicholas Latifi would indicate another strong season is on the cards for the French team.

Artem Markelov had perhaps his most consistent weekend of his GP2 Series career in Spain with two fourth place finishes for Russian Time, and he and Italian team-mate Raffaele Marciello, who secured two top-eight finishes of his own, will be looking for more points in Monaco.

Sergio Canamasas remains with the Carlin team for another weekend, and the two-time Monaco podium finisher will be looking for a third trip to the podium this weekend on the back of a strong result in Spain two weeks ago where he took fifth in the Feature race.

Team-mate Marvin Kirchhöfer had two quiet races in Spain, finishing fifteenth in both, and will be making his first appearance around the Monaco circuit this weekend eager to make an impression on the championship.

Alex Lynn - Credit: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service
Alex Lynn – Credit: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service

MP Motorsport and Racing Steps Foundation-backed Oliver Rowland secured two points scoring results in Spain, and although this will be his first time at Monaco in a GP2 car, he has two years of experience around the track having raced their in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2014 and 2015, finishing inside the top six both years.

Rowland and Dutch team-mate Daniel de Jong will be eager to be in the fight for more points around the Monaco circuit, although de Jong will need to show some improvement after two finishes well outside the top ten in Spain.

The Rapax team also secured a points finish in Spain, with Gustav Malja taking ninth in the Feature race, and the Swede will be hoping to take the experience of racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series into this weekend to have a strong weekend.

Team-mate Arthur Pic was disappointed to miss out on points in Spain, but the Frenchman is vastly experienced in Monaco, and will be eager to return to the points for the first time since his switch from Campos Racing to Rapax in the winter.

A team that would have been disappointed after Spain would have been ART Grand Prix, who scored only one point through Nobuharu Matsushita in the Sprint race, while Sergey Sirotkin blew the opportunity of a podium finish in the Feature race by crashing out.

Sirotkin was one of the quickest drivers at the Spanish circuit all weekend, and secured his maiden GP2 podium at Monaco in 2015, and will be looking for more this year to get his championship challenge, of which he is still the favourite, back on track.

Sergey Sirotkin - Credit: Malcolm Griffiths/GP2 Series Media Service
Sergey Sirotkin – Credit: Malcolm Griffiths/GP2 Series Media Service

Campos Racing had a dreadful weekend in Spain, with Mitch Evans in particular struggling, but the popular and quick New Zealander will be quick to put the results behind him and concentrate on the job in hand in Monaco, and will be looking for a return to the podium there after finishing inside the top three in both 2013 and 2014.

His team-mate Sean Gelael will be looking to gain more experience of the GP2 Series machinery, and will be eager to put his crash with Prema Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi behind him from Spain and have a problem-free weekend.

Giovinazzi will also be looking for more from Monaco, having been denied a points finish on debut due to a penalty for causing a collision with Marciello in the Feature race, and then crashing out whilst battling with Gelael in the Sprint race in dramatic fashion.

2015 GP3 Series runner-up Luca Ghiotto will be looking for his first points of the season as he makes his second appearance around the Monaco circuit, with the Italian another driver with previous Formula Renault 3.5 Series experience there.

His Trident team-mate Philo Paz Patric Armand is unlikely to trouble the points as he, like Campos Racing’s Gelael, looks to build his confidence in GP2 machinery, but like Ghiotto, has Formula Renault 3.5 Series experience there having scored a tenth place finish with Pons Racing in 2015.

The final team on the grid this weekend is Arden International, and for Jimmy Eriksson it will be his first experience of a street circuit in four years, with the Swede eager to show his potential after a relatively disappointing weekend in Spain for the multiple GP3 Series race winner.

Team-mate Nabil Jeffri will also be making his Monaco debut having stepped up from European Formula 3, with the Malaysian hoping to stay out of trouble and move up the order as he continues his adaptation to GP2.

Norman Nato - Credit: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service
Norman Nato – Credit: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service

The Monaco weekend of the GP2 Series has a different programme to the rest of the calendar, with practice and qualifying taking place on Thursday before the Feature race takes place on Friday, with the Sprint race following on Saturday.

The qualifying procedure will also be different, with two sessions scheduled to set the grid, with the odd and even numbered cars having their own sessions to try and avoid carnage as drivers vie for position and lap time.

Pirelli will bring the two softest compounds to the circuit, with teams using the Supersoft and Soft tyres around the slowest circuit on the calendar.