Fabio Leimer qualifies 3rd for Racing Engineering at Bahrain.
Today’s opening day of the second Bahrain weekend had a major change of format with practice, qualifying and the Feature Race all taking place within six hours.
Practice got underway in the same hot conditions that the GP2 teams had faced last week and once again the Racing Engineering team adopted a similar strategy that they had used for round 2 with neither driver completing many laps to conserve their tyres. At the end of the 30 minute session Fabio Leimer had set the 6th fastest time of 1:42.947 in five laps and Nathanaël Berthon finishing in 11th with a time of 1:43.193 in three laps.
Qualifying began just one hour after the end of practice and both Racing Engineering drivers were out early on their Prime tyres in order to set a banker lap time before switching to the softer Option tyres. Berthon was immediately amongst the quicker drivers as he set the 6th fastest time and with 9 minutes gone Leimer jumped into 3rd spot.
As the session passed the halfway point most of the drivers pitted to swop to the softer tyres and with just 5 minutes left on the clock Leimer again moved into 3rd place with a 1:42.619 and with no one able to beat this time in the remaining minutes the young Swiss driver will start from the second row of the grid.
Berthon was setting some quick sector times and although, by the end of the session, he was only in 16th place with a time of 1:43.328 his ideal lap would have easily placed him in the top ten.
With Leimer starting this afternoon’s Feature Race from third and, remembering how he led last week’s Sprint Race for so many laps, he must be considered a favourite for the race win especially as he starts from the clean side of the grid. For Berthon the very impressive race pace he showed last week gives him a good opportunity to make up positions and put himself in a point scoring position.
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: "Well done for Fabio. With a bit more luck he could have gone for pole, but it's a good starting position for the race. With a good start and first corner, I am sure he will have a strong race. In regards to Nat, he was very good through the first and third sector, but needs to work on sector 2. I think he will have a good race as usual, but it's a pity he has to once more start from the back. I am sure he can do better, so we need to really work on his qualifying in the future."