Nato returns to winning ways with Monza Sprint race triumph

Norman Nato - Credit: GP2 Series Media Service

Norman Nato made the most of a great start to secure his second victory of the season in the Sprint race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Sunday.

The Frenchman jumped from fourth on the grid with a great getaway to lead into the first turn, with his team-mate Jordan King following through into second.

Unfortunately for pole sitter Mitch Evans, a sluggish getaway saw him drop a few places that meant he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when at the second chicane he was clipped by Gustav Malja and spun into the gravel trap and into retirement on the opening lap.

At the same time, third place starter Luca Ghiotto was also spun out of the race by Oliver Rowland after the MP Motorsport driver speared into the back of the Trident racer.

Both Rowland and Malja were handed ten-second time penalties for their parts in the incidents, while Saturday race winner Antonio Giovinazzi was lucky to survive the carnage, running across the gravel trap and losing an element of his front wing.

The virtual safety car was deployed to clear up the mess, but once the race resumed, Nato was able to pull away from his Racing Engineering team-mate, who increasingly found the going tough as he struggled with his tyre degradation.

Pierre Gasly, disappointed to lose out on a podium place on Saturday through no fault of his own, was up to third at the start, and found a way through passed King for second, but was never in position to close the gap to Nato, who won by 4.312 seconds.

Unfortunately there was more disappointment for King, who found himself off the podium after Giovinazzi, broken wing and all, also moved passed the Briton to claim the final podium position, giving Prema Racing a 2-3 finish.

King fell behind Malja on the final lap but with the Swede taking his penalty, the Briton retained fourth, although by just 0.038 seconds from Artem Markelov, the duo finishing side by side at the chequered flag.

Also finishing side by side were Alex Lynn and Nobuharu Matsushita, with just 0.010 seconds separating the DAMS driver from the ART Grand Prix racer at the line, with both less than a second behind the King/Markelov battle.

Malja’s penalty meant the Rapax driver missed out on points altogether, albeit by just 0.023 seconds, with Nicholas Latifi bringing the second DAMS machine into the points despite finishing tenth on the road behind Malja and the other penalised racer Rowland, who dropped from ninth to eleventh.

Raffaele Marciello, a podium finisher on Saturday, was unable to get away from the grid on the formation lap and ultimately started from the pit lane in his Russian Time machine, but was unable to do any better than fifteenth, while Sergey Sirotkin was an early retiree with a mechanical issue sidelining him at the first chicane while running well outside of the points.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza Sprint Race Result

13Norman NatoFRARacing Engineering33:51.821
221Pierre GaslyFRAPrema Racing+4.312
320Antonio GiovinazziITAPrema Racing+8.495
44Jordan KingGBRRacing Engineering+12.775
510Artem MarkelovRUSRussian Time+12.813
65Alex LynnGBRDAMS+13.576
71Nobuharu MatsushitaJAPART Grand Prix+13.586
86Nicholas LatifiCANDAMS+21.503
911Gustav MaljaSWERapax+21.526
1019Marvin KirchhoferGERCarlin+22.566
1122Oliver RowlandGBRMP Motorsport+29.225
1212Arthur PicFRARapax+34.192
1324Nabil JeffriMAYArden International+34.194
1418Sergio CanamasasESPCarlin+36.845
159Raffaele MarcielloITARussian Time+40.665
168Sean GelaelINOCampos Racing+44.059
1714Philo Paz ArmandINOTrident+48.628
1825Jimmy ErikssonSWEArden International+1 Lap
1923Daniel de JongNEDMP Motorsport+1 Lap
RET2Sergey SirotkinRUSART Grand PrixRetired
RET7Mitch EvansNZLCampos RacingRetired
RET15Luca GhiottoITATridentRetired