Carlin on the pace in Monza qualifying
Carlin’s GP2 drivers Alvaro Parente and Max Chilton both demonstrated front running pace in Monza today, in free practice and qualifying ahead of the final round of the 2011 GP2 Series. Both drivers were amongst the front runners in Friday morning’s free practice session, and both qualified in the top ten at the historic Monza circuit this afternoon, with Parente fourth and Chilton tenth.
In contrast to the last GP2 outing at a rain soaked Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, conditions were hot and sunny as the final European round of the year got underway this morning in Monza. Both Chilton and Parente were on the pace from the outset, with Chilton finishing the half hour session sixth quickest, just ahead of Parente who was seventh.
Conditions remained hot for the final qualifying session of the season and Parente was amongst a handful of drivers who seized the initiative to post a quick lap early on, going fifth fastest in the first minutes of the session. The Portuguese racer improved on his next lap to go third quickest.
Team mate Chilton meanwhile was enduring a tough session. The British racer was almost the quickest of anyone in the first two sectors, but failed to put in a quicker lap after hitting yellow flags or traffic in his final sector.
At the half way point the field were back in the pits making the switch to new rubber. Parente was in good shape in fourth place, while Chilton was yet to post a competitive time and was at the bottom of the order.
Chilton was one of the first to exit the pits for his second run, but the Carlin man was unlucky when his first flying lap coincided with the rest of the field leaving the pits. At the end of the session, Chilton had only one semi-competitive run which was also hampered by traffic, but even that was enough to catapult the Carlin driver from the bottom of the timing screens to ninth.
In the final minutes several drivers tried to improve, but yellow flags hampered the progress of many. Parente however had done enough to secure fourth on the grid, while Chilton was tenth, with Carlin one of only two teams to get both of its cars in the top ten.
Reflecting on his session, fourth place man Parente said, “It was a pretty crazy session to be honest; there must have been four or five yellow flags, one of compromised one of my really good laps – but I’m sure other drivers were affected by this too.
“The car feels really good though. I’m very happy to be back here with the team, they have given me a great car straight away. I think we did a good job today. Monza is special race and you never know what will happen, but I think we have a good car for the rest of the weekend.”
Despite his frustrating qualifying session, team mate Chilton was still upbeat about the potential of the Carlin car, adding, “The car felt amazing. I was pushing really hard and the car was still capable of taking it. Pretty much everything I wanted to do the car was able to respond to. I put in some great first and second sectors but got caught up every time at the end of the lap. The car feels really good though and if I get a clean run into turn one, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”