By David C. Schilke
- Jules Bianchi sets best time but is penalized
- Giedo van der Garde is awarded pole posistion
- Sam Bird will start on the front row
Qualifying for the second round of the 2011 GP2 series saw initial polesitter Jules Bianchi penalized for ignoring the yellow flag during today’s session at Circuit De Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. The fastest driver in qualifying will start 11th after being dropped ten places by GP2 officials. That left the door open for Giedo van der Garde to start from pole, the Barwa Addax entry has the pace for it, and was only a tenth off Bianchi’s fastest time. Starting alongside van der Garde is Sam Bird for iSport International, who looks to take over the title lead from Romain Grosjean this weekend and was just a hundredth off the Dutchman’s time.
In the press conference before the penalty, van der Garde was just pleased to be on the front row, “Yeah, very happy considering where we were in Istanbul! I think we put a lot of effort in last week with the team, and I have to thank them a lot for that. So I'm pleased with the result today, yes.”
Very happy considering where we were in Istanbul!
Meanwhile Bird as already looking to grab as many points as possible this weekend, “I think the work that we did this morning was important and good, so we'll have to wait and see tomorrow what it turns out to be. We've collected some good data and we now need to analyse it, and work out what will be the best solution tomorrow.”
Slotting into third place is the other Addax car of Charles Pic with points leader Grosjean right next to him in fourth. Grosjean went quickest in the morning practice but was unable to find an opening in traffic during qualifying to set his best lap. As a result he’ll start right behind Bird and will need to chase after his rival during tomorrow’s featured race.
Davide Valsecchi starts fifth for rookie Team AirAsia, showing the new camp is competitive out of the starting box. Dani Clos winds up the top six. Marcu Ericsson will start sventh, Stefano Coletti eight. Luca Fillippi and Max Chilton are ninth and tenth, respectively.
Tomorrow’s feature promises to be a good fight with no clear winner predicted. Bird and Grosjean have proven to be quick in race conditions, while their rival Bianchi will have a huge deficit to make up after the penalty. Meanwhile Van der Garde will be after his first win since 2009, if he beats Bird off the line then there’s a good chance the Dutch driver will earn his fifth GP2 win of his career.