Andre Negrao has finally seemed to have found his feet in the GP2 Series, and the Brazilian secured his best results of the season at Monza. The Arden International driver finished fifth in the Feature race on Saturday, a result he went on to match in the Sprint race on Sunday. Team-mate Rene Binder had a less fortunate weekend in Italy, getting caught up in an incident in race one that damaged his front wing, and then retiring in race two after a clash with Sergio Canamasas.
After securing points in both GP2 races in Belgium two weeks previously, Negrao continued his form in Italy, claiming a pair of fifth places. He enjoyed his best qualifying session of the year that meant he started up in ninth place, and was happy to make up places in the race. He was disappointed to lose a place on the restart after the safety car on Sunday, but was overjoyed to score points in both races.
“There isn’t much to say about free practice, I was sixteenth and had points where I could improve on track myself,” said Negrao. “So was hoping I could do this for qualifying. It was a good qualifying session my best finish this year, p10 again I made some mistakes that could be corrected but I was pretty happy. I was then promoted to p9 when Jolyon Palmer (Dams) was excluded from the results due to lack of fuel.
“In race 1 I had a good start made up many positions but into turn 4 I lost a position to Felipe Nasr. I had a good start on Sunday for Race Two; I managed to stay in my position. Then there was the safety car and on the restart I didn’t do so well and lost one position. That’s where I pretty much stayed for the rest of the race.
“Its great to take more points for the team and me. I am looking forward to Sochi now.”
Binder had a more disappointing weekend than his Brazilian team-mate, and felt he had the potential to match Negrao. In the amazingly close qualifying session on Friday, the Austrian was just over a tenth of a second slower than Negrao, but that saw him start nine places lower on the grid. He was annoyed to damage his front wing in race one that necessitated an extra pit stop to replace it, and then even more saddened by being eliminated from race two by the errant Canamasas.
“It was a frustrating weekend for me because we could not show the potential we had,” insisted Binder. “P18 and only 0.12 behind Andre, who was P9. This small difference was very challenging. I did not get all my sectors together, so the theoretical lap time was better by 2 tenths, which would have put us easily in the Top 10 in Qualifying. This was a real shame!
“Race one, I was involved in an incident with several, where I was really unlucky and damaged my front wing. We made 2 pit stops in the race, one for the wing and then the mandatory stop, so I finished twentieth. The pace was really good because after the first pit stop for the wing change, we only lost six seconds to the leader Vandoorne to the end of race.
“Race two started perfectly for me. I had a really good start where I overtook 3-4 cars and a perfect first lap, which put me to P10, starting from P20. I was very unlucky again that Canamasas hit me and put me out of the race.
“The one good thing to take this weekend is that Andre showed that we have the pace to finish in the top 8. Basically it was really close in Qualifying and there was only a 0.1 difference between us. Also in race 1 I showed good pace, which would have been competitive for the first 8 positions.
“I will continue with my hard work and also the luck will come on our side again in the last two race weekends of the Championship.”