The ART Grand Prix team scored three podium finishes in the GP3 Series round at Monza, with Dino Zamparelli securing second place on Saturday ahead of team-mate Marvin Kirchhofer in third, while Kirchhofer secured third again on Sunday. Alex Fontana was the victim of somebody else’s accident on Saturday but climbed up the field on Sunday to miss out on points by less than two seconds.
Zamparelli was impressive all through Saturday, qualifying second and then shadowing race winner Jimmy Eriksson for his fifth podium finish of the season. He was unhappy with how his second race materialised after taking damage on the opening lap, and was left frustrated to lose points on the final lap to Eriksson.
“I saved a set of tires in practice and qualifying and it was the right decision because the race was great,” said Zamparelli. “Together with Eriksson, we pulled out a gap in the first part of the race and then I decided to go flat out for the last 5 laps. The car was mega and it was a great feeling. I asked over the radio what the fastest lap was and I did my best to make it mine.
“Fourth podium in a row, this is good, but once again I was so close to winning, I really want to get on the top of the rostrum! The second race was a huge disappointing end to a positive weekend. My car was damaged in the first corner when I was hit and I struggled all race long with the balance. I did my best to secure some points and it’s frustrating to have let them go on the last lap.”
Kirchhofer had never raced at Monza before, but after qualifying eighth made a good start and finished third for his first podium finish since his win in Germany. He replicated the result in the second race, and was happy to get the best of Emil Bernstorff after the German claimed the Briton did not leave enough room at the first corner.
“After a so-so qualifying, I knew there was more to come in the race,” said Kirchhofer. “I had a really good start and managed to gain several positions in the first lap. Then I was ahead of [Robert] Visoiu when we fought under yellows. The team told me there would be an investigation over this manoeuvre so I just stayed calm and did not take any risks to try to get the 3rd position back on track. It was a relief after Spa where I’ve been unlucky.
“The second race was really good too, with another clean start and good fights. Honestly, Bernstorff did not give me enough room: I was on the outside of turn 1 and he squeezed me. The car was airborne and I was afraid something broke. But I fought back and put him under a lot of pressure and he made a mistake in Lesmo.
“Two podiums in one weekend after so many opportunities that turned their back to me, this is nice. We have to keep pushing in Russia and to seize every opportunity to fight for poles and wins until the end of the season.”
Fontana was hoping to build on his performance in Belgium where he secured his first points and podium finish of the season but was disappointed to retire from race one after being hit by another driver, but fought back to be fighting for points in race two before ultimately missing out on the final lap.
“12th position in qualifying was not what we expected as I was aiming for the top 5,” insisted Fontana. “But I did not have a good track position and with the smallest gaps of the season, you can easily lose a bunch of positions.
“In race 1, a driver lost control of his car when he out-braked himself and crashed into me when I was turning in. There was nothing I could do. In race 2, ART Grand Prix gave me a great car with a super aggressive set up and it worked really well. It was a lot of fun to overtake so many cars.
“I’m just disappointed I fell out of the points on the last lap when Eriksson made a muscled attempt past me, because ART Grand Prix deserved this point for all their hard work. But I did not want to risk a penalty; I wanted to have a fresh and clean start for the next round.”
Team Principal Frederic Vasseur was happy to see ART Grand Prix secure the most points of any team in Monza, and praised all three drivers for their performances over the weekend. He was happy for Kirchhofer’s double podium, Zamparelli’s race 1 strategy and Fontana’s fight-back through the field on Sunday.
“For the fourth time this season, in 7 race weekends, ART Grand Prix got the best points total,” stated Vasseur. “This statistic underlines the quality of the collective work and that’s a great satisfaction.
“Congratulations to Marvin who was racing in Monza for the first time in his career and who secured two podiums thanks to his mental strength and superb driving.
“Starting with new tires in race 1, Dino had a smart strategy in hand and he made the best use of it fighting for the win until the last meters. He just missed a tad of luck, once again.
“Despite his bad luck in the first race, Alex kept focused and with a very good state of mind. His spectacular recovery in the second race shows he too could have been fighting for podiums in Monza.”