Billy Monger wins remarkable Grand Prix de Pau as Liam Lawson crashes out
Billy Monger has won the fourth race of the Euroformula Open series, run as the 78th Grand Prix de Pau. Monger pulled off the formation lap to pit for wet weather tyres as the conditions on the street circuit worsened, making his way from the rear of the grid to his first ever single-seater victory.
“I can’t believe it. I mean, after qualifying 11th, we had so much more potential than that. I thought that was going to be our race, I thought we were going to be stuck in the midfield. We had the green flag, and I just knew it was too wet, and where I was starting I just made the gamble for wets on the warm-up lap before the start of the race, I had nothing to lose.
From that point on just tried to pick them off one-by-one. I’ve got to thank the team, I’ve got to thank Carlin.”
Julian Hanses qualified on pole for the slippery Pau Grand Prix, but it was Billy Monger and Nicolai Kjaergaard who caught the field’s attention when they dived into the pits before the race had even begun, to change to wet weather tyres.
Hanses lead Yuki Tsunoda and kiwi Liam Lawson into Turn 1, with Lawson challenging his teammate from the start.
Rui Andrade gave the first distraction of the race, with a retirement on lap 1 after sliding into the barriers. The safety car was deployed, and the drivers on wet tyres had the chance to catch the rear of the pack, with Billy Monger in P13 as the highest-placed.
Lawson applied consistent pressure to fellow Red Bull Junior Driver Yuki Tsunoda after the restart but was unable to capitalise. Meanwhile Monger up to P10, P9, … P6 within a three-lap window, charging through the field.
Lawson was increasingly desperate to get past his Japanese teammate, eventually pushing through after an almost full-lap battle. Lawson looked quick enough to challenge for first and take his second Grand Prix victory of the year after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix while competing in the Toyota Racing Series.
The rain was increasing, as a fine white spray began to hover above the circuit, and Monger was quickly up onto the tail of Tsunoda, with his advantage only growing as the rain continued to fall.
After laps of pressure, Monger barged past Tsunoda into the chicane and took third place.
Liam Lawson, chasing and catching first-place Julian Hanses, attempted an identical move into the chicane. Lawson, however, was much further behind than Monger had been, and Hanses had already committed to the chicane. Lawson clipped the side of his MP Motorsport teammate, sending them both hurtling into the barriers, as Billy Monger watched the track clear in front of him, putting his Carlin into the lead.
The Safety Car was deployed as a distraught Lawson watched the field pass his wrecked Red Bull branded Dallara F317.
Tsunoda took the opportunity to dive into pits for wet tyres behind the safety car, and Monger held his lead at the restart ahead of Kjaergaard. Swedish driver Linus Lundvist oversteered into the barriers at Lycée off the restart and blocked the track, taking two others with him.
Tsunoda was fastest on track and up to third, but Monger proved unbeatable at the front. The race went time-certain on lap 21, as ‘BillyWhizz’ could begin to see the podium emerging from the rain ahead of him. He won the 78th Grand Prix de Pau, his first ever win in a single seater, ahead of Kjaergaard and Tsunoda, in an all-rookie podium.
Australian Calan Williams finished last of the classified runners in P11, while Jack Doohan was out on lap 3.
Monger, who was injured in a F3 accident two years ago, reflected on his win:
“I didn’t ever believe two years ago that this would be the case that I’d be winning races. I’m just over the moon.
I don’t see disability as a limit, it is a challenge, something you can overcome, in racing as in daily life.“
The Euroformula Open now heads to Round 3 @ Hockenheim, 25-26 May.
Euroformula Open - Grand Prix de Pau
Nicolai Kjaergaard +1.121s
Yuki Tsunoda +1.630s
Christian Hahn +18.506s
Marino Sato +23.251s
Teppei Natori +24.146s
Cameron Das +37.788s
Guilherme Samaia +38.729s
Aldo Festante +39.499s
Calan Williams (AUS) +1 lap
Linus Lundqvist DNF
Julian Hanses DNF
Liam Lawson (NZ) DNF
Jack Doohan (AUS) DNF
Andrade Rui DNF1