Bianchi steals top spot in practice
Frenchman leads the way in Valencia
Jules Bianchi stole an early march on his rivals by claiming the fastest lap on a final dash for the flag on the last lap in this morning's free practice, pushing countryman Romain Grosjean down the timesheets as Bianchi greeted the chequered flag at the end of the session ahead of Giedo van der Garde and Luca Filippi.
Bianchi's best time of 1:47.681 was less than a tenth ahead of the Dutchman, but it will give the Frenchman hope that he can put his early season troubles behind him as he looks to close down the points difference in the Series tables, as well as on the time sheets.
The session got under way in hot conditions but under a blanket of cloud as Lotus ART teammate Esteban Gutierrez set the early pace, but Series leader Grosjean soon resumed normal service by taking the top spot for himself: when Josef Kral spun and stalled at turn 14 the red flags were out immediately, denying the opportunity for a fight back as everyone returned to the pits for new tyres.
When the track went green again everyone set about cutting into the Frenchman's laptime, with Sam Bird, Gutierrez and Christian Vietoris all giving Grosjean something to consider, but when Pal Varhaug stopped at turn 14 the red flags looked to have brought an early end to the session: however, happily the track was clear with 3 minutes remaining, handing everyone one last chance for glory.
Grosjean was the first man on track but was held up by late pitlane exiters next time round: everyone else was running faster than before and it was Bianchi who claimed the one lap honours, ahead of van der Garde and Filippi. Grosjean had to accept P4, ahead of Charles Pic, Dani Clos, Bird and Gutierrez, all of whom will be looking for revenge in this afternoon's qualifying session at the technically demanding circuit.
-source: gp2 series