Adrian Quaife-Hobbs bounced back from a disastrous qualifying to net his maiden GP2 Series podium with second place in Monaco on Saturday.
Marking his first ever visit to the Principality, the 22 year-old spent much of practice and qualifying learning the track layout and trying to sort the problems that beset him last time out in Spain. Armed with an MP Motorsport 600bhp, four-litre V8 Mecachrome Dallara, Quaife-Hobbs was however disappointed to end up 26th, with his team-mate Daniel De Jong alongside.
Lining up at the back of the field for the opening race, the reigning AutoGP World Series Champion successfully negotiated his way around a multiple first corner crash, which claimed almost half the 26-car grid. With a controlled drive, the BRDC Superstar kept his cool to move up to eighth before the race was red flagged to remove the stricken cars.
At the restart held under the safety car, Quaife-Hobbs quickly showed the form that netted him his dominant championship title last season. A solid first half allowed him to hold eighth, although he was relegated to ninth during the compulsory pit stop.
Rejoining the track behind Stephane Richelmi, the Briton closed down the gap over the remaining laps, and began to apply pressure to the eighth placed driver. On the final lap, he found a way past with a superb move at Ste Devote.
Starting race two from pole position and with spots of rain falling, Quaife-Hobbs made a flying start and held first position for three laps, but with his front tyres not yet fully up to temperature was forced to brake earlier in the opening laps. Initially keeping Coletti behind, he was however forced to concede the place when Coletti made a do or die move at the chicane allow.
Wisely Quaife-Hobbs elected not to fight for the position, and instead waited for his tyres to come up to temperature before mounting a serious attack. In a yo-yo situation, the gap continually fluctuating, he began his push for the lead with eight laps remaining.
However on a track notoriously difficult to pass on, and with his maiden podium in sight, he eventually decided to accept second place at undoubtedly the highlight event of the year, to notch up his first podium in the series and add further to the points tally opened in Bahrain.
The GP2 Series next heads to Silverstone on 28th to 30th June for the British Grand Prix event, which marks Quaife-Hobbs’ only UK appearance of the season.
“I had a great start. I was quite surprised when I looked into my mirrors to see how big a lead I had going up the hill. But there was a little bit of rain and I focused on warming the rear tyres and I think I did not put quite enough heat in the fronts because I just under steered in the Casino and everyone caught me up. Then going through the next laps I was really trying hard to pull a gap and I did manage a small one under the back straight with Stefano. Then he got in my slipstream. I thought he was a bit too far back to have a go. I braked late and I locked up. I looked into my mirror and Stefano was just there just coming straight down the inside. I tried to release the brake to get back ahead, but there was nothing I could do. He was pretty committed to that move. I think if I tried to defend we would not have made the corner. There was no point in trying. I settled down and followed him hoping I would be able to attack him towards the end of the race”.
“I am delighted to get my first podium, which after the disaster in qualifying, is a great result. We proved yet again that we have the race pace, now we must focus on sorting the issues we’re having in qualifying. I cannot believe the turn around. To come from the very last spot on the grid for race one, to take my first podium finish is a great result. Having half the field go out in race one was naturally a big help, I don’t think I’ve ever made up 13 places in one lap before!”
“It’s now four weeks until the next round, and we need to look into improving our qualifying form so that we’re not playing catch-up in the races.”
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