Asia: Shanghai: MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara qualifying report

Free practice Alex Yoong - 1.47.275 - 23rd - 12 laps Earl Bamber - 1.47.290 - 24th - 11 laps Qualifying Alex Yoong - 23rd - 1.47.652 Earl Bamber - 9th - 1.47.060 This weekend in Shanghai the first race of the GP2 Asia coincides with the ...

Free practice
Alex Yoong - 1.47.275 - 23rd - 12 laps
Earl Bamber - 1.47.290 - 24th - 11 laps

Alex Yoong - 23rd - 1.47.652
Earl Bamber - 9th - 1.47.060

This weekend in Shanghai the first race of the GP2 Asia coincides with the penultimate F1 race. Malaysian Alex Yoong and New Zealand rookie Earl Bamber went on the attack for Malaysian-based MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara.

Following an important tradition in China, Chinese dancing lions which are believed to bring luck and happiness, accompanied the My Qi-Meritus.Mahara cars to the pit lane for the start of the free practice session early in the day. This session marked the opening of the second season of the GP2 Asia Series for the two drivers and took place immediately following the first F1 practice session in which Lewis Hamilton had set the fastest time of 1.35.630.

After respectively 12 and 11 laps, in an uneventful session, Yoong and Bamber finished with best times of 1.47.275 and 1.47.290 for 23rd and 24th positions. A red flag interrupted the session when Durango's David Valsecchi stopped on the track.

The qualifying session was also interrupted twice by red flags, at the start and then six minutes from the end of the session, but Bamber set a good pace to set the ninth fastest time in 1.46.060. Meanwhile, Yoong completed fewer laps and recorded a best time of 1.47.652 for 23rd position. The team completed a lot of work during the session after he experienced a gearbox oil leak following the first of the two red flags.

Alex Yoong: "I arrived at Shanghai very motivated after I familiarised myself with the car during the previous week's test session. It's a pity that we did not have more track time before our first practice session, but what really counts is qualifying. After the first 30 minute run this morning I must say that I quite like this circuit. The first three corners are among the most difficult. It is all about getting into them with a lot of speed, and the first corner is pretty fast initially. But then it tightens up more and more and you have to shift down a gear. Getting out the other end in good shape is a bit more difficult. I like this even if it is a bit disappointing not to have been able to do a decent qualifying lap. With so little running, my brakes and tyres were never at the right temperature. But the team has time to fine tune the car for the first race tomorrow".

Earl Bamber: "I was not so pleased in the morning because we had a lot of traffic and I don't yet really know the limits of the car so it was hard to push at the right moment. The first session was a real experience on such a huge scale track which offers a mixture of very different corners. There are some slow areas but also several fast sections. It is very challenging. I like this even if I was cautions from the start. I think we can set a good pace for the race following my ninth place in qualifying. The team worked hard during the session and we improved the car balance. The tyres worked well and the car was fine. Let's see how it works and what we can achieve. I hope my good luck continues."

Peter Thompson: "With Earl Bamber, MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara achieved its goal in qualifying. It was hard to achieve because Earl did his times as there were only two laps left. A pity we did not achieve the same with Alex. He had a problem with the gearbox after the first red flag and it took us the rest of the session to fix it."

Q and A with Peter Thompson:

Q: Are you looking forward to the second GP2 Asia season?

A: "It came around so quickly! We air freighted our car to the race here. After the Shanghai event, we send it to Malaysia via Saudi to Jeddah and Ryad, among others place, to do a road show aimed at making fans and sponsors aware of the series."

Q: Do you feel the other GP2 teams had an advantage with another GP2 season?

A: "The other teams certainly have an advantage over us because they work all year round on their cars. But it does not worry us too much."

Q: How good was your team in Year One?

A: "We are very serious about racing. We have a different business plan than the other teams. This is probably how we differentiate and we use racing to develop our business."

Q: Do you have the prospect of winning in the 2008-2009 second season?

A: "We have an experienced team with Gianfranco Bielli and the best and most experienced mechanics in Europe. We need to acquire a bit more data. But we will be there. We'll possibly be better in race 2 than race 1 this weekend."


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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Alex Yoong , Earl Bamber