Disappointing qualifying sessions for both Esteban Gutierrez and James Calado on Thursday meant they started 10th and 13th respectively on the grid for Friday’s feature race, but both were able to make great progress against the odds on the narrow Monte Carlo streets. After making up two places at the start, Gutierrez ran eighth for his first stint, before making up one place during the pitstops. Contact with the barriers while lapping a backmarker put paid to his good work, however, and he was forced to retire. His misfortune promoted Calado to seventh place, giving him a reverse-grid front row start for Saturday.
The misfortune swapped over in the Lotus GP garage for the sprint race though, as Calado suffered front wing damage at the first corner and Gutierrez picked his way through a first-lap pile-up to jump from 23rd to 12th. Although Calado admirably hung on to second despite his damaged wing, he was eventually forced by race control to pit for repairs, before later retiring due to the excessive damage. Gutierrez picked off a number of rivals during the race and took the chequered flag in eighth place to score one point.
After five weekends of this year’s championship, Calado lies fifth in the championship on 75 points, one place ahead of Gutierrez on 60 points. Championship leader Davide Valsecchi has 141 points. Lotus maintains second in the teams’ championships, 34 points behind leaders DAMS.
James Calado: “I scored some points. In Race 1 I finished seventh from 13th, got into the rhythm of things eventually and started to set fast laps which is why I gained places by jumping people in the pitlane. Then I started second for Race 2, but unfortunately got hit at the first corner, went into the wall, knocked my front wing off and damaged my suspension, so quite unlucky. I tried to stay out on-track but I got the black-and-orange flag. We changed my front wing, went out and it was better, but the steering became loose and it was too dangerous to carry on. I had to retire which was unfortunate because I could have gained a lot of points. Valencia should be good though. I’ve been there before so, like Barcelona, I should be good from the start.”
Esteban Gutierrez: “It was a positive Saturday considering the weekend we had been having was very, very tough mentally. I feel bad for my colleagues who had a big crash, but this gave us an advantage to recover some positions and score a point. In Race 1 I had a good start by gaining two positions and another in the pitstops which put us in the position to finish in P7. In the last five laps I had a lapped car in front, I didn’t have enough space, went on the kerb and straight into the wall.”