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pic 02/09/17 Contact from another driver costs Nyck De Vries and Racing Engineering the win today at Monza.

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It was overcast today at Monza for the 30 lap Feature Race and the rain that had heavily affected the F1 Qualifying was still falling and it was much cooler than yesterday with air and track temperatures of 15° and 19° respectively. The track was very wet and slippery and visibility would be a problem with the cars throwing up a lot of spray. Not surprisingly all the cars, including the Racing Engineering drivers Nyck De Vries and Gustav Malja, were fitted with the Pirelli Blue wet weather tyres. Under new regulations the race would start behind the Pace Car and when it was considered to be dry enough the cars would return to the grid and make a standing start for the remaining 23 laps or one hour, which ever came first. Following yesterday’s Qualifying Nyck was starting from the front row in an excellent second place, while Gustav, who had had a difficult time was back in 17th.

The Safety Car pulled in after seven laps and the cars lined up on the grid, but a stalled car caused the start to be aborted and the cars did another warm up lap. The cars formed up once again and as the lights went off Nyck made a great start to take the lead into the first corner but he was hit by Markelov who pushed him off the track but the young Dutch driver kept his cool and regained the track still in 1st. As the cars finished the opening lap Nyck was leading a very fast starting Leclerc and the two men were soon lapping very quickly, some 2.5 seconds a lap faster than the rest, in the difficult conditions.

On lap four Nyck was 1.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc and the two men were still in a class of their own as they were now over nine seconds ahead of the third-placed car. By lap seven Leclerc had closed on to Nyck’s gearbox and he had the advantage of the tow from the Racing Engineering driver forcing Nyck to drive very defensively. Over the next two laps Nyck opened out a one second gap and he gained a little more as the Frenchman went briefly off the track but both men were still setting very similar lap times. As the race passed the halfway point on lap twelve Nyck’s lead was two seconds but both men were having to preserve the tyres as all the drivers were hoping the track would clear enough to fit a set of dry compound tyres.

By lap 16 Leclerc had closed in again on Nyck but once again Nyck pulled away a little and on lap eighteen Leclerc pitted as Nyck put in his fastest lap of the race so far. Nyck pitted on the following lap and a great stop from the Racing Engineering team got him out in the lead again. On lap twenty the Safety Car took to the track as Rowland’s car lost a wheel allowing Leclerc to close in on Nyck and as the Safety Car pulled in on lap twenty two and the cars entered the first corner on the restart Leclerc missed the chicane and in the confusion Ghiotto passed Nyck as the two cars raced down the pit straight Nyck pulled level and took the lead under braking but as the cars exited the chicane Leclerc, who was forced wide by Matsushita who had cut the chicane, made contact with Nyck, the Frenchman left the road and one of Nyck’s tyres was punctured and he was forced to retire on the final lap.

Gustav got away cleanly gaining two positions from King and Ferrucci, who had to start from the pits, and he was quickly ahead of Gelael to lie 14th. On lap three the young Swede passed Markelov for 13th and by lap seven it was 12th as he moved ahead of Gelael. His next target was Nato who was 2.9 seconds ahead in 11th but, although he began to close the gap, on lap nine he lost a position to Albon to fall back to 13th. On lap sixteen Gustav pitted for a set of new wet tyres and he continued in 18th place and, as other cars pitted he improved to 13th. Late race incidents to Rowland, Leclerc and Nyck saw him finish 9th.

A desperately unlucky race for Nyck after leading every lap of the race except the final one and his final finishing position of 18th will see him having to start tomorrow’s Sprint Race from the back of the grid. Gustav drove well in very difficult conditions to finish 9th after starting in 17th and both men will be trying as hard as possible to score points tomorrow.
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©FIA F2 Championship
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©FIA F2 Championship
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©FIA F2 Championship
Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger - Technical Director: “We are a bit speechless at the moment. After a long delay due to the postponed Formula 1 qualifying, we started our race behind the Safety Car until the track conditions were judged suitable to race. We had a standing start where Nyck had a good getaway opening a 2.7 sec. gap on Leclerc during the first laps. From there on we managed the pace, the tyres and strategy well. But all this came undone after the Safety Car when Nyck briefly lost the lead. But he took it back on the last lap, but ended up having a contact due to another driver catching the grass. All in all, it’s a shame because this one was definitely for us. On the other car the pace was average but due to the on track incidents we managed to get to the points and we will see, if there are still some penalties.”

Nyck De Vries: I had a good start taking the lead. I then didn’t do anything wrong at any moment in the race. We chose the right strategy, pitted at the right moment. Everything looked under control and good until the Safety Car, which brought the entire field together and the mess started during the last two laps. It just feels unfair that my opponents didn’t respect the rules and were just cutting the chicane. On the last lap I had a collision with Leclerc, which caused a puncture and was the end of my race.”

Gustav Malja: “This was eventful race and we knew from before that wet races at Monza are usually action-packed. Pace-wise I am not really happy, I didn’t have as good a feeling in the wet as I had in Spa. I felt that I had a better pace during the first laps, but was then overtaken by Albon. After the pit stop I felt good and was faster than the cars ahead of me. I was able to keep out of trouble during the final laps and made up positions. I think there might be some penalties ahead of me, so my final position might still change. Thanks to the team for the quick pot stop today.”
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©FIA F2 Championship
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©FIA F2 Championship
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©FIA F2 Championship
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