The 30 minute morning free practice session was held under grey skies and a track temperature of 25°. With the possibility of more of the rain that had affected the earlier F1 practice all of the teams opted to go out as quickly as possible to get some dry running in case the weather deteriorated.
As the cars completed their first flying laps Nathanaël Berthon was immediately on the pace with the 6th fastest time but with less than 10 minutes of the session completed there were signs of rain on the track. Fabio Leimer too was soon setting some fast laps and was immediately into 4th place. With 15 minutes of practice gone an accident to Serenelli saw the session stopped by the red flag and as the cars returned to the pits it began to rain heavily. Practice resumed with 5 minutes to go but with the track now damp no more quick times were set and at the end of the 30 minutes Leimer had set the 6th fastest time with a 1:24.342s and Berthon was 16th on a 1:24.974s.
It was raining hard at the start of the 30 minute afternoon qualifying session with the track temperature down to 18° and the air temperature was just 17°. As the session began all of the cars took to the track with wet tyres and all the drivers had to concentrate on setting a good time without taking too many risks.
Once again Leimer was showing his speed in the wet and on his first flying lap he set the second fastest lap in his Racing Engineering car. The lap times soon began to fall as the drivers got used to the conditions but with ten minutes gone the rain began to fall more heavily and the cars began to run at several seconds a lap slower and most of the cars returned to the pits.
Although several cars returned to the track with 10 minutes remaining the conditions hadn’t improved and no faster times were set. This left Leimer qualifying in an excellent 3rd with a time of 1:44.944s and Berthon less than a second slower in 16th spot with a lap of 1:45.917s.
A post-qualifying penalty to Calado promotes Leimer to the front row of the grid so tomorrow’s 38 lap Feature Race will see Leimer start as one of the favourites for victory especially if the race is held in wet conditions, which the weather forecast is predicting, whist Berthon will concentrate on using his proven race pace to look for a points scoring finish and to improve his grid position for Sunday’s Sprint Race.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"“Another wet qualifying. The circuit was quicker at the beginning of the session with slightly less water on track compared to the second half. Both drivers started the session straight away and had a difficult task to push for a fast lap when at the same time secure a full clean lap to set a time. Fabio did a good job achieving the third quickest time which means front row as Calado has a grid penalty. Unfortunately Nathanaël has not been able to set a quick enough lap for the top 10 under these difficult conditions. It looks like we might have more rain tomorrow, so we can expect and action packed race."
"It wasn't a bad qualifying. Looking at it afterwards I could have pushed a bit more, but free practice was in the dry, so I wanted to adapt to the conditions. When I felt better and better, the rain increased and there was no way to set a faster time anymore. A front row start is good and I think regardless of the conditions we are well prepared."
"Basically we went on track at the beginning because we expected the rain to become stronger. I managed to improve my time during the first three laps, but I was a bit too careful in a few corners as I wanted to be sure to set a time when the track was at its best. And it was maybe a bit too much as I missed the top 10 by three tenths."