Racing Engineering’s drivers are looking for a good result in the Monaco Feature Race.
The thirty minute morning practice session began under sunny skies and almost immediately all the cars were out on track as, with the afternoon qualifying only lasting 14 minutes, it was important for the drivers to familiarise themselves with track conditions and to work with their teams to optimise their chassis set-up.
Even though the yellow flags were shown on four occasions and the session ended early with a car stalled on the racing line both Racing Engineering drivers were running in the top ten for most of the session. At the end of the 30 minutes Fabio Leimer, who had been fastest, finished with a lap of 1:22.750 for the 3rd quickest time whilst Nathanaël Berthon was just 0.7 seconds slower on 1:23.445 in 9th place.
Although the earlier F1 practice had been badly affected by rain the sun was back out for the first qualifying session for the odd-numbered cars and the track temperature was at 27° but the rain meant that the rubber laid down by the F1 cars had been washed away and grip levels were likely to be lower than had been the case in the morning practice.
With just 14 minutes track time and no time to pit the supersoft Pirelli tyres were the logical choice and all the cars were on the track as soon as the session began. Racing Engineering’s representative in this session, Nathanaël Berthon was soon setting some very quick lap times and he quickly moved up to 4th.
The lap times began to come down as the grip levels increased and as the cars entered the last few minutes everybody was striving to find a clear lap and as the session ended Berthon was 8th quickest with a time of 1:22.475.
The second session began a few minutes after the end of the first one and once again all the even-numbered cars were quickly on track. As the first fast laps were completed Fabio Leimer immediately set the second fastest time and on the following lap he went quickest with a 1:22.053.
With just three minutes of the session remaining, just as all the drivers were looking to go for one final quick lap, Gonzalez spun and hit the barriers at the Swimming Pool chicane and the session was immediately red flagged.
With just 2.40 remaining the session started again with time for just an out lap followed by a flying lap which meant only a few drivers were able to improve their time. Leimer was unable to better his earlier lap and he had to settle for the 5th fastest time.
The grid for Friday’s Feature Race will consist of the top driver from each session being on row one, the next driver in each session on row two etc. This means that Leimer will start from the 9th fastest position on row 5 and Berthon from the 16th position on row 8.
With tomorrow’s race lasting for 42 laps of the tight and twisty Monegasque circuit both Leimer and Berthon will be looking to keep out of trouble and to gain as many places as possible and with the typical attrition of a Monaco race Leimer will be looking for a podium finish and Berthon will want to increase his points tally after his strong showing in Barcelona.
Timetable: Race 1: Fri 25 May 2012, 10:30 (GMT+2)
Race 2: Sat 26 May 2012, 16:10 (GMT+2)
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "A disappointing result for both cars in today's qualifying, especially considering that both had shown promising pace in the free practice session. Unfortunately, Nat suffered from traffic in the last sector on various occasions, while having improved his time during the previous sectors one and two. Monaco is a very special place and we know it's difficult to have everything fall into place on one lap. The starting positions are challenging, but we will do our best to fight back tomorrow."
Fabio Leimer: "At the beginning it looked positive. I was in P1 for some time. But then, when everyone improved their lap time, I could not follow and dropped back to P5. This is quite disappointing, especially here in Monaco. However, we will do our best tomorrow and the goal is to make up positions, score points and have a good starting position for the sprint race."
Nathanaël Berthon: "The car was good in qualifying. I could have done much better, but on three flying laps I had traffic, always the same driver hampering me. Even when twice on cool down laps I created a 10 seconds gap to this car ahead, on my flying lap the car slowed me down, each time in the last sector. Before I was always in P4, so I think I could have realistically finished in P4. This is Monaco, the first time I had traffic in qualifying, so this complicates things for tomorrow's race, but I will do my best and definitely try to make it to the top 8."