One win, two pole positions, two fastest laps. Carlos Sainz Jr was dominant in Monza, and only an electrical gremlin in his gearbox kept him from a clean sweep, having also topped both test sessions on Friday. The DAMS driver was on a different level to pretty much everyone in Italy.
Team-mate Norman Nato’s weekend was not as successful; indeed the Frenchman failed to score a point. On Saturday, he collected a large part of debris from Marco Sorensen’s terrifying crash causing him to have a puncture, while on Sunday despite a fighting drive, he missed out on points due to a poor qualifying performance.
“First of all my heartiest congratulations to the team and to Carlos,” said DAMS Managing Director François Sicard. “He was fantastic all weekend and he showed his strength of character. Blood will out! Carlos confirms this and we can now give him the nickname previously attributed to his father, the Matador! He deserves it.
“On Sunday he showed everybody who was boss with a drive that was as brilliant as it was intelligent. Norman was unlucky on Saturday, but overall his weekend was a disappointing one. We know he has what it takes to be very quick and I’m sure he’ll soon be back on the right track.”
Nato finished fifteenth in race one, and eleventh in race two, losing the last point to Fortec Motorsport driver Oliver Rowland a few laps from the end. Everyone knows the Frenchman is quick – he finished second in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS championship back in 2012 – but he has got to start performing in the 3.5 litre cars sooner rather than later.
“It really isn’t an ideal debut,” admitted Nato. “I wasn’t where I should have been in qualifying and I got caught up in the intense mid-field battles. I was lucky on Saturday when bits of bodywork from Sorensen’s car landed on my bonnet; it could have been a lot worse. In the incident a tyre punctured and that ruined my race.
“I drove very hard on Sunday but starting so far back compromised my chances. I know what points I have to work on, and I’m going to give one hundred per cent to fight my way back to the front-runners in the next race.”
A ten second victory in a circuit that traditionally offers close on-track racing is a great effort from Nato’s Spanish team-mate Sainz Jr, who is the son of former Rally world champion Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard showed to the Formula Renault 3.5 series paddock the spark that was missing in the GP3 series paddock in 2013 had returned.
“I’m really very happy with this first victory of the year,” said Sainz. “I’d like to thank the whole DAMS team as the car was absolutely perfect all weekend. Saturday’s incident was outside our control and it gave us even more motivation on Sunday.
The championship’s still long and we’re up against tough competition so we won’t rest on our laurels. We’re hoping to do even better at Motorland.”