Bianchi tops rained out qualifying
Frenchman heads washed out session
Jules Bianchi claimed pole position for tomorrow's feature race in Silverstone after setting the fastest lap early in this afternoon's qualifying session before a torrential downpour brought an early end to the fight for the top spot: the Frenchman was just ahead of Alvaro Parente and Romain Grosjean on the timesheets.
The Frenchman's best lap of 1:58.531 was set on his second flying lap, with Parente crossing the line four tenths slower a few moments later. Bianchi and Grosjean were clearly on the pace immediately: the pair were swapping fastest sector times on their first flying lap, but Bianchi upped the ante next time round to give his rivals a new target.
Unfortunately for them, however, the heavens opened almost immediately after he finished the lap: the rain was so heavy that there was no option but to limp back to the pits anyway they could, and to wait. Eventually the rain stopped, but the standing water on the track meant there was no chance of setting a competitive time: Fabio Leimer had to try, as he had yet to set a time, but the water meant he was 23 seconds off the pace.
But considering the conditions, the Swiss driver will be almost certain to be allowed onto the grid tomorrow, which puts him ahead of one of his rivals: Kevin Mirocha was unable to start the session due to a pre-existing shoulder injury, and will take no further part in the weekend after testing it this morning in free practice.
Behind the top three drivers were Christian Vietoris, Dani Clos, Max Chilton, Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Gutierrez, Sam Bird and Charles Pic, although Grosjean will take the start tomorrow from P13 due to his penalty from Valencia. All of the drivers, though, will be hoping for better conditions tomorrow to show their true potential.
Bianchi, Parente and Grosjean discuss the session
GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's qualifying session here in Silverstone. Joining us today from pole position is Jules Bianchi from Lotus ART, in second place we have Alvaro Parente from Carlin, and in third place we have Romain Grosjean from Dams. Starting with you Jules, congratulations on pole position today: it wasn't quite the session we were all hoping for, but how was it for you
I'm really happy, because after some difficult races it's good to be back on pole.
Jules Bianchi: It was a really difficult qualy for everybody, I think. We started and I tried to push a lot from the first lap, then on my second lap I saw that maybe I would have some traffic in the final few corners but I didn't: it was quite a quick lap and it was pole position! I think we did the right strategy, and we thought a lot about it before the qualy with the team: I really want to thank them because we did a really good job, the car was really good and now we are pole for tomorrow!
GP2 Series: We didn't get to run with the slicks this afternoon: how were the wets performing?
Jules: The tyres were good: I could feel some little degradation! (laughs) We'll see tomorrow: if it's raining it will be tough, but we have to see how to reduce this degradation in the rain. Anyway I'm really happy, because after some difficult races it's good to be back on pole.
GP2 Series: You've got a big opportunity with the front guys on the leader board a bit further back: what are your hopes for tomorrow?
Jules: Obviously I don't think a lot about the championship because I'm really far away: I'll just take it race by race and try to do my best, try to do some good results, and that's it. Tomorrow I start from pole, I will want to win and get some points: that's it!
GP2 Series: Alvaro, congratulations on a very strong performance in tricky conditions for P2: how was it for you out there?
Alvaro Parente: Thank you. It was good, especially after this morning didn't go so well: I didn't get many laps and we had a small problem with the car. Wet weather, and it's my first time on the new lay out of the track, so I had to learn that as quick as possible: it's not many corners, but it still makes a difference. I had a good qualifying, the strategy was also good, I had 2 clear laps and it was good: a small exaggeration on one of them, but anyway I think it was the right think because as soon as I finished my second lap it started to rain a lot, so I was quite fortunate on that!
GP2 Series: Unfortunately we didn't get to see you lap because the cameras were trained on these guys: was it just a case of a couple of clear laps, and being at the right place at the right time?
Alvaro: I think so, yeah: in qualy nearly everywhere it's that, so if you have a good gap and some clear laps, and you've got the right car, you should be at the front. So yeah, we did the right option today.
GP2 Series: You start tomorrow from the front row: what are your hopes for the race?
Alvaro: First of all we've got to see what happens with the weather: wet, dry, here you never know! So after that we will make some decisions: the car feels good, especially now in the wet, although in the dry we didn't get everything out of it, so we'll work hard and see tomorrow.
GP2 Series: Great job. Romain, congratulations on P3 today: two strong laps, but that was all the time we had today...
Romain: Grosjean: Yeah, I think we chose today the same strategy as Jules, the first lap was really good and the second one was going to be really good as well but unfortunately it happens again that some drivers don't respect the blue flags: that's how it is, I saw Jules in my mirror at the first corner and I could get away, but he had to finish his lap in a clear way. I think we have to be happy with where the others are and where we are with the ten places (grid penalty) for the incident in Valencia: we start 13, which is bad but not too bad compared to the others. I'm happy that Jules takes the two points for pole position: he will be my best friend, I think! (laughs) It's a long weekend, and lets put things in a different way for the next one!
GP2 Series: You showed you've got the pace today, even though you start tomorrow in P13: what can you do from there?
Romain: You always hope: we came back from 26th to 4th in Monaco, so from 13 we'll see where we end! But I hope to get some good points tomorrow, definitely to finish in the top 8: we'll have to think about the race to push when we have to and when we can make some good moves, we know for the strategy if it's wet or if it's dry then degradation will be the key for the race for everybody. We will try to make it work in the best way, but we'll see.
GP2 Series: It won't be easy of course, as a few guys got caught out today in the conditions, so Sam, Giedo, Davide, Charles will all be around you: will that make an impact on your race?
Romain: Well, it's going to be good for you to watch! (laughs) That's an interesting point, but I'm glad that they're not further ahead because basically I think Sam is P8 with my penalty, Valsecchi is 12, Charles is 11 and Giedo is 19th, so we'll all there! As I say, I think Jules can be my best friend because he's a bit far in the championship – I don't forget him at the moment, because you never know – but as he doesn't have much points maybe it's good that he scores points, and Alvaro as well: it's better they score points than the others... (laughs)
by: GP2 Series