|Saturday, November 21, 2015 2:09PM|
Alexander Rossi returned to Racing Engineering and the GP2 Series this weekend to defend his second place in the 2015 championship following his positive five races in Formula 1. Despite being on top form throughout the weekend, issues with the car compromised his penultimate round of racing, and after some excellent on track battles he heads to Abu Dhabi in a strong second place in the overall Driver Rankings.
Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit was met with air and track temperatures of 27.8°C and 31.6°C respectively, and Alexander remained true to form, immediately setting the pace during the initial laps with a 1:42.158s. As the 45 minute session progressed he soon improved to 1:41.616s and on his seventh lap we went fastest overall with a time of 1:41.180s. The team then focused on longer race runs, and with no changes to the earlier lap times, Alexander remained at the top of the timing sheet and finished the morning session in P1.
The 30 minute Qualifying session that afternoon saw the track temperature increase to 33.8°C. Alexander was one of the first cars out on track and immediately set the pace once more on his initial flying lap with a time of 1:41.220s. However braking issues with his car forced his return to the pits for a new set of Pirelli soft compound tyres. With just fifteen minutes remaining Alexander returned to the track and improved on his time to clock a 1:40.141s, however with the car still showing issues under braking Alexander was unable to maximise the performance seen in the morning session and qualified in 9th.
Conditions for Friday’s 32 lap Feature race were similar to those of the previous day, with air and track temperatures of 25°C and 31°C respectively. Starting on the medium compound Pirelli tyres, Alexander lined up 9th on the grid, knowing the pace and performance of the car would put him in a strong position after solving Thursday’s braking issue.
As the lights went out, Alexander was squeezed to 11th place, however soon began to storm back up through the field, reaching 9th position by lap three. Now one of the quickest cars on track, Alexander chased down the DAMS car ahead of Lynn, and was in 8th position by lap five. By lap seven, the Racing Engineering car was just 0.3 seconds behind Pic, and by lap nine he had taken 7th place from the Campos Racing driver. Alexander’s next target was Evans, who was 1.9 seconds ahead. On lap 17 Alexander took his mandatory pit stop, switching to the Pirelli soft compound tyres and resumed the track in 16th position.
Alexander was flying on his new tyres once more, and set the fastest lap of the race so far with a time of 1:44.879s. By lap 20, he was in 4th place and rapidly closing the 1.4 second gap to Evans. With P2 in his sights, Alexander battled it out with Evans, however the two cars collided in Turn 3 with Alexander coming off worst and he was forced to return to the pits for a new nose cone. He resumed the race in P21, however was only able to progress to 18th as he took the chequered flag.
Saturday’s Sprint Race was met with typically warm temperatures once more with Alexander lining up in P18 on the grid. With the lights out for the final time in Bahrain, Alexander made an excellent start, fighting his way back up through the field. A safety car saw the field close up and by lap 4 racing resumed, with Alexander quickly taking the cars in front. As the race progressed Alexander was able to fight back up to the points winning positions, however following wing damage from lap one, the tyres began to degrade much quicker and he finished the race in 9th.
Alexander will now head to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi to complete the final round of racing for his 2015 season, from 27th - 29th November.
Alfonso de Orleáns-Borbón: “It’s been a weekend to forget for Alexander and we’re disappointed with the results which were no reflection on his performance potential. We showed a very strong pace in the feature and sprint race, it’s just a shame incidents took place. Braking issues in qualifying meant we were on the back foot for the weekend, but with Alexander’s experience and character these setbacks did not get to him. We are looking forward to an extremely positive weekend in Abu Dhabi and finishing the season on a high."
Alexander Rossi: “It’s been a tough weekend following the braking issues in qualifying. Overall the race pace and car was excellent. I’m pleased with my performance, there was not much more I could have done. P2 in the Feature Race was in reach and it’s a shame what happened with Evans, but this is racing and the battles you take up each time the lights go out. It was an unlucky one for us, but we’ll go into the final round with even more determination. We are a solid P2 in the driver ranking and I’m confident to cement that in Abu Dhabi. This is a track I’ve had a lot of success at in the past.”