|The temple of Italian motorsport, Monza, is the venue for this weekend’s GP2 Series races, round eight of the 2015 Championship and the Racing Engineering team and their two drivers, Alexander Rossi and Jordan King, are looking forward to the challenges of this famous circuit. The last round at Spa Francorchamps saw the Spanish team record a fantastic 1-2 result in Sunday’s Sprint race when Alexander lead Jordan across the finish line and both men will be looking to continue this form in Monza.
Below Ines Koschutnig, Racing Engineering’s General Manager looks back to last weekend and forward to the Monza weekend:
In Spa, Racing Engineering had a very successful weekend with its first 1-2 in GP2. Can you talk us through the weekend, which had its ups and downs?
I would say the race weekend was the result of several factors, but we already started with a thorough pre-event preparation back at the workshop which should then translate into strong results from free practice on. In qualifying we were hoping to have both cars in the top spots, but in the end it was our rookie Jordan, who achieved his best qualifying result of the season by setting the fourth fastest time. We would have loved to see Alex up there as well, but we know how strong he is in the races, so were not really worried about his 8th place in qualifying. We chose an aggressive strategy for the feature race and are convinced, given the race pace which we also showed on Sunday, that both our boys could have made it to the top spots. But the Safety Car, and the following red flag, put an end to our plan and we had to focus on damage control. Nevertheless were we the only team with both cars in the top 8. The reverse grid rule put Jordan on pole for Sunday and Alex right behind him in 3rd, so we knew that we were in a good position to finish on the podium with both cars. It was the combination of great driving, reliable cars and a good pace throughout the race, which made these results possible.
Talking about the driving, are you happy with the performance so far of Alexander Rossi and Jordan King?
Definitely! Jordan, being a GP2 rookie, is doing a great job. Let’s not forget that the learning curve is very steep for drivers joining this championship and from the very first race on he has shown that he is a driver to watch out for. His qualifying results are more and more consistent and his race performance is fantastic. He is such a fighter! It’s a pity that both his and the team’s effort is not properly reflected in the overall standings, but luck has not always been on his side. Few will forget drives like his amazing race at Silverstone, which in the end didn’t score him any points. Jordan's continuous progress during the season shows a very promising outlook for the remaining four rounds. As for Alex, he is second in the championship, and in Spa we finally celebrated his first win, but I doubt it will be his last with us. Alex is fantastic to work with, such a team player, the amount of work and effort he puts into it is rarely seen in a driver, and I do not mean only his work on track, but also back at the workshop with the engineers. He is such a professional driver and a real addition to the team. It’s a pleasure to see how well the drivers get along with each other. Everyone, the drivers and the team are benefitting from this good understanding.
Monza is up next on the calendar. What does it mean for the team to compete at one of motorsports most legendary circuits?
Monza is so special and together with Silverstone and Spa they are the historic tracks, which are and will always be classics. Monza is one of the fastest circuits and approaching the first chicane, after the start-finish straight, the cars reach their highest speed of the season and then brake into one of the slowest corners of the year. It is a mixture of long straights and heavy braking zones, where drivers cannot afford to make any mistakes and it requires their absolute focus. Corners like Lesmo I and II, Ascari and Parabolica are classics, even though the latter has suffered from some modifications, which resulted in it being more forgiving that it originally was. But, nevertheless, racing at the Temple of Speed is a unique experience for drivers and teams. Due to its location in the royal park of Monza and the Italian Tifosi it gives it such a special atmosphere.
What are the biggest challenges of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza?
As mentioned above, the mix between long straights followed by heavy braking zones, the lowest downforce of the season and the cars consequently sliding like no other track are the Monza characteristics. It’s all about top speed, being confident in the car under braking and having a good car over the kerbs at the chicanes. It's important that the cars are reliable and that the drivers have 100% faith in their driving, with nerves of steel. These are just some of the ingredients if you want to win in Monza.
What are Racing Engineering’s goals for this weekend and can we expect to see Alex and Jordan on the podium again?
I see no reason why not. We usually have a good car at Monza and with the encouraging results from Spa I really hope we can keep the momentum going and finally take our first feature race win of the season. As for specific goals, Alex is second in the drivers’ championship, so we need to work on increasing the gap to the drivers behind while taking points off Stoffel. In Jordan’s case, we will focus on scoring good points in both races, allowing him to move up in the standings as well. If we are able to reach both these goals, then the third one is the logical consequence - we are second in the teams’ standings and our aim is to increase the gap to the teams behind us and reduce the gap to the team in front.