By: Nancy Knapp Schike
- Pic leads Addax 1-2 in qualifying
- Van der Garde tops rivals for front row
- Grosjean ends session early, but 3rd on grid
Spanish team ends up with front row at home land race
Frenchman Charles Pic and his Barwa Addax team mate from the Netherlands, Giedo van der Garde, own the front row for the GP2 Series race on the Valencia Street Circuit. The duo were chased by Romain Grosjean but the German ended third fastest in today’s qualifying. It was a thrilling session despite the red flags as the top drivers battled for the top slots on the temporary track in Spain.
... it was very, very close!
When asked in the post qualifying press conference if he was expected to set a fast time at the end of the session, Pic laughed with the words “For sure I was trying!”
The pole winner added, “The first 2 sectors were good but not mega fast, and the third sector was very fast and we made the pole! The team did a good job, Giedo was really, really close and he made a great first run, so it was very, very close! I am very happy, and now we have to be focussed on tomorrow's race.”
It was van der Garde who first laid down the fastest time for Saturday’s Feature race at 1:46.727 but his own team mate Pic claimed the top spot with a 1:46.675 just prior to the session’s early end when Grosjean tried too hard and ended up in the wall. The Frenchman basically helped his own countryman earn the pole today. Pic was only 0.052 seconds ahead of van der Garde and Grosjean was just 0.044 seconds out of taking a front row slot for the DAMS team with his best time of 1:46.771.
Van der Garde was clearly frustrated as he said, “I think the first part of the session was quite good, I had a good, clean lap and the lap was not fantastic, two little mistakes, and I knew I could do better. But on the second set everything went wrong: I went out, a red flag, then I started my first push lap and there was traffic in sector two, and then I started to push again and Romain crashed!”
Tied for the points lead with Bird, Grosjean reflected on his crash near the end of the session: “I knew it was the last lap and I thought I'd try something different: it didn't work! But it was very close, and I'm quite happy for Dams because last year they were nowhere, and they didn't know what to expect coming here.”
The GP2 drivers were out on track after the Formula One teams ended second practice and in the afternoon, the temperatures heated up but then so did the action. As soon as the track went green for the drivers to lay down hot laps, a black cat appeared but if anyone thought it would bring bad luck, none slowed down as van der Garde, Grosjean, Pic, Sam Bird (iSport) and Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART) were pushing on the tight twisty circuit.
All the top drivers who are in a tight point battle were giving it their best as they all had one desire: the pole! In typical fashion, especially for a street circuit, red flags for incidents or cars stopped on track ate away the allotted time.
Super Nova’s Luca Filippi will start alongside Grosjean with the fourth fastest time. Row three belongs to Gutierrez and Bird. Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) and Davide Valsecchi (Air Asia) fill out the fourth row.
The street battle will continue tomorrow with the Feature race. The top 8 finishers will form the grid for Sunday’s Sprint race. As always, this is a time for the GP2 drivers to shine in front of the Formula One teams.