Pole on home turf for Vettel
Proving that their performances in collective testing were no fluke, the Carlin Motorsport drivers carried through their domination into the qualifying sessions here at the NÃ¼rburgring this morning. Sebastian Vettel and Mikhail Aleshin will line up on the front row of the grid for race one this afternoon. Ben Hanley (Prema Power Team) and Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing) will take the second row spots.
Despite some overnight rainfall, the track was already dry by the time the Formula Renault 3.5s went out onto the circuit for qualifying.
After eight minutes, Milos Pavlovic (Draco Racing) was the first driver of the group to go under 1'45''. At this point, the Serbian still had the upper hand over his teammate Alvaro Barba. Just before the mid-point in the session, Fairuz Fauzy (Cram Competition) managed to slot in between the two Draco drivers. On the next lap, the Malaysian driver became the fastest man out there by going round in 1'44''461.
With seven minutes of the session left, Mikhail Aleshin took the second spot. But only seconds later, it was Giedo van der Garde who snatched the fastest time. The Dutchman further improved on the next lap to take provisional pole with a time of 1'44''143!
But Giedo was not to enjoy that status for long: Mikhail Aleshin then put in a lap that was simply in a different class: by going round in 1'43''511, the Russian driver opened up a gap of more than 6/10ths over his rivals!
With three minutes to go, Alvaro Barba got to within 36/1000ths of Aleshin. Bonanomi also went better than Van der Garde. In a last-ditch effort, Alvaro Barba then missed his chance to beat Aleshin's time when he was obstructed by his compatriot Celso Miguez, who was in some trouble out on the circuit.
Right at the chequered flag, Clivio Piccione then moved into 3rd ahead of Bonanomi, Valsecchi, Fauzy and Van der Garde.
As in the opening session, we had to wait until 8 minutes in to see some respectable times come up on the screens, with Sebastian Vettel going close to the 1'44'' mark. The Tech 1 drivers were the last to come out on the track while Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com) came back into the pits for fresh tyres after making a minor error.
With a little over half the session gone, Vettel then improved on his time beating his teammate Aleshin's time with a lap in 1'43''381! Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing), Ben Hanley (Prema Power Team) then Alvaro Parente all took it in turns to go second fastest, but they never came to within less than 4/10ths of Vettel's time.
Then, by putting in a perfect lap on his second flying lap, Parente took provisional pole in 1'43''323 with only six minutes of the session left. It remained to be seen whether Vettel could hit back!
And hit back he did, by setting a new Formula Renault 3.5 lap record of 1'42''984 in the final minute of the session. At the chequered flag, Alvaro Parente also lost his 2nd row spot to Ben Hanley! Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi) and Julien Jousse were the other drivers to make up the top five for this session.