|Sunday, October 21, 2012 7:42PM
Alexander Rossi rounded off his season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with an incredible fight back on Sunday to finish fifth after starting 21st at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain with the Arden Caterham team. He also set the fastest lap of the race in both of the weekend’s races.
Both Friday practice sessions were fragmented affairs as drivers found themselves subject to numerous red flag periods. In free practice one Alexander ran as high as seventh, and ended the session P11 after completing 14 laps. In the second session, Alexander ran 25 laps, finishing fourth fastest, less than three tenths off the pace of session leader Kevin Magnussen.
Alexander was strong in Saturday qualifying, sitting second at the halfway point. In a session disrupted with red flags, he was denied the opportunity of the pole shoot out in the dying minutes when he was hit by Jake Rosenzweig, causing a puncture. He still however set the fifth fastest time of the session.
Problems getting off the line due to an unidentified electrical issue saw Alexander unable to start Saturday afternoon’s race, being pushed by marshals to pit lane. The car was restarted in pit lane, but Alexander fell back to 26th in the 29-lap race, 31 seconds behind the next car in front. He set about recovery and picked away at catching the field. Alexander caught the field mid-way through the race, overtaking seven cars by the penultimate lap and crossing the line in 19th position. He also set fastest lap of the race on lap four with a time of 1:32.371, which was thereafter never bettered.
Qualifying took place on a wet track on Sunday. In the early part of the session times tumbled as the track dried slightly however, after an early red flag period, the tyres did not work as well on a drying track. Alexander was shuffled down to 21st to line up on the 11th row for the afternoon race.
In the race, Alexander made a lightning start to gain four positions immediately and slot into 17th. By lap two he was up to 15th and then made his compulsory stop on lap five. After some slick pit work and great progress by Alex, he set the fastest lap of the race on lap eight, which was never bettered and, once the pitstops had played out, his speed had elevated him to eighth. He passed championship contender Sam Bird on lap 15 to take seventh. The action intensified up on lap 22 when Frijns and Bianchi clashed, putting Bianchi out of the race and causing Frijns to drop down the order, promoting Alexander to fifth place. He went in hot pursuit of Magnussen but ran out of laps, crossing the finish line in fifth.
Alexander Rossi: “It’s been a very challenging season on track for me. We’ve had some high points such as the podium in Monaco and have been able to demonstrate the potential we had in places like Silverstone and here on Sunday in Barcelona, along with several fastest laps. However for several reasons we haven’t been able to convert the potential into a string of solid results, despite the car being very good from Silverstone onward. It was a season with a lot of bad luck, but I learned many important aspects developing a race winning car with Arden Caterham. I look forward to turning things around in 2013 and getting back to regular podium finishes and wins.“
Julian Rouse, Arden Caterham Team Manager: “It’s been another frustrating weekend for Alexander in terms of the overall results, but again he’s done a fantastic job of working with the team and showing real speed and consistency throughout the weekend regardless of the conditions. Another two fastest laps in the races show that when Alexander has the opportunity he’s one of the best drivers out there at this level. There’s no denying it’s been a really challenging year but he’s done a fantastic job of pushing forward a new team in World Series and, with his input on and off track, he’s helped us to create one of the most competitive teams out there by the end of season.”