Fabio Leimer and Racing Engineering start 4th in the Sepang Feature Race.
The weather was hot as the GP2 drivers took to the Sepang track for the Free Practice session with the teams using the new Hard compound Pirelli tyres. Most of the teams were using the 30 minute session to setup their cars for the track as well as learning about tyre degradation in the high temperatures. It was difficult to draw any conclusion from the times as many of the cars were running different fuel levels.
The track temperature was 40° C as the Qualifying session began as the most of the cars left the pits to begin the 30 minute session; the cars were now running the softer Pirelli compound. Both Fabio and Julián were immediately on the pace with their first flying laps putting then in the top ten. Fabio immediately began some very quick sector times and with 12 minutes gone he jumped to the top of the timing list with a lap of 1:44.463s.
Many of the cars, including both of the Racing Engineering drivers, now returned to the pits for last minute adjustments before the final ten minutes of Qualifying began. Julián was immediately one of the fastest on the track taking the 8th fastest time with a time of 1:44.732s. With Fabio opting to save his tyres; the young Swiss driver finished the session with the 4th fastest time with Julián finishing 11th in his first race weekend with the Racing Engineering team.
Tomorrow’s Feature Race will see Fabio starting from the second row and his proven race pace must make him one of the favourites for victory. With Julián less than half a second slower than the pole position time the young Colombian will be looking to move up into the point scoring positions and gain a good grid position for Sunday’s Sprint Race.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "Today was an intense and interesting day for the team in Malaysia with the first qualifying of the 2013 season. We finished qualifying in P4 and P11 with Fabio and Julián respectively. We had some quite positive track time as were able to see and test different aspects on the car. We were also able to play a bit with the strategy. There is a lot to prepare for tomorrow's race, which will be even more interesting than today's qualifying as we will see how the tyres degrade and affect the race pace of the cars. We will keep working on the preparation for tomorrow."
Fabio Leimer: "Today was actually the first time to really see where everyone is as it was the first qualifying of the season. The pre-season tests didn't help us a lot as the temperatures back then were so different to what we encountered here. As it was the first time we were able to really push in qualifying mode, I think we did a pretty good job as I immediately took P1 at the beginning of the session. In the end 3 other drivers improved and I think we took the right decision to have an eye on tomorrow's race. Therefore I am happy with today's P4; we will see what tomorrow brings."'
Julián Leal: "I think the first track day here in Sepang was quite positive. When I was on my fast lap with the first set of tyres, I made a mistake in the last corner. This cost quite some time, so I was not able to be as fast as I could have been. When we put the second set, I was able to improve a lot even though I found some traffic on track. But I think the car is quite competitive, so we wait for tomorrow's race."