By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Pic earns 2nd pole of 2011
- Filippi on front row
- Grosjean 3rd best in qualifying
Charles Pic on Nurburgring pole after late power surge in GP2 Series qualifying
Barwa Addax Team driver Charles Pic started today’s GP2 Series qualifying with the best time and ended the session by retaking the fastest lap to earn the Feature race pole with a time of 1:40.317 in the closing minutes. The battle was intense on the 5.148 km Nurburgring GP-Strecke circuit in Germany with Luca Filippi just 0.076 seconds off the pole winning time. The Scuderia Coloni driver will start on the front row with his best flying lap of 1:40.393, moving Romain Grosjean to the second row.
I'm very happy with it,...
Pic’s first comment in the press conference: “Great! A great session: we made hard work to make this pole, because in Silverstone we were a little bit less competitive than usual, so we worked on it and it worked. I'm very happy with it, and congratulations to the team: now we have to do some more work for tomorrow because the race is more important than today!”
Grosjean was the early pace setter in the practice session, and like other rivals for this year’s crown, the Frenchman fell short to steal the pole with his best lap of 1:40.431. Traffic played a major part during the session and especially in the final four minutes, leaving not only Filippi and Grosjean out of the chance for the pole, but also Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Pic’s own teammate Giedo van der Garde.
As for the cool temperatures today which affected the tire temps, Pic added, “It was okay: when it's cold it's always a little bit harder to heat up the front, so the hardest I think was to be able to get the front and the rear together on your flying lap.”
Earlier in the first hot laps of qualifying, it was iSport International’s Sam Bird and Grosjean stealing the show from Pic’s first hot lap. In fact Grosjean even made a slight error in his flying lap, taking the DAMS car into the gravel at the chicane which truly showed his speed but in the end, the Frenchman will take the standing start with the 3rd best time.
"We were clearly the quickest today, but Vietoris blocked me in the final chicane. Tomorrow is another day and I know that we'll be quick in the race. Let's look on the positive side of things; we're third and our main rivals are all behind us,” commented Grosjean.
Filippi was a surprise at the halfway mark when he stayed out instead of making the pitstop for new tyres but by doing so, he took the provisional pole from Grosjean by 0.011 seconds. It was a gamble, not only by the Italian but also by his team. It proved to work due to the congestion on the track. On his fresh tires later, he was able to improve his time but not enough to better Pic’s hot lap at the end.
“I’m happy of this performance, especially because it’s the best way to say thanks to Paolo Coloni and team for putting their trust in me,” said Filippi. “Today we really did a good job, the car was quick from scratch and then all the little changes we did made it a bit quicker. It’s also very easy to drive on the limit, and I can tell you that because I managed to do nearly the same lap three times, easily.
Unfortunately I had to abort my quickest one due to some slower cars and that cost me the pole position, but for tomorrow I feel that we really have very good chances to fight for the win. Furthermore, we did less laps than the others on our second set of new tyres, so we will have some more grip tomorrow,” added the Italian.
Bianchi slotted on the second row with the fourth best time of 1:40.755. Van der Garde was fifth fastest followed by Fabio Leimer (Rapax), Alvaro Parente (Carlin), Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART), Marcus Ericsson (iSport) and Luiz Razia (Team AirAsia).
Due to the close times, one can expect Saturday’s race to be a truly good fight from start to finish. Traffic could play a major role in the outcome and with the championship points as close as they are, one minor mistake could end a driver’s hopes of staying in the main battle for the crown.
After qualifying Michael Herck was found to have blocked Sam Bird in the session by GP2 officials. The Scuderia Coloni driver was handed a three spot penalty and will now start 16th on tomorrow's grid.