Today's Qualifying on the new street circuit of Valencia did not go as well as Javier Villa had hoped for. It was always going to be a lottery for all the GP2 drivers as, with this being the first time the GP2 teams had visited the Spanish...
Today's Qualifying on the new street circuit of Valencia did not go as well as Javier Villa had hoped for. It was always going to be a lottery for all the GP2 drivers as, with this being the first time the GP2 teams had visited the Spanish circuit, there was no previous data to work from in setting up the cars to give the best possible performance on the track with its combination of both high speed sections and some second and third gear corners.
The 30 minute Free Practice session, held this morning, gave Javier his first experience of Valencia at the wheel of the GP2 Dallara although he had lapped the circuit in a GT car last month. It was clear, almost immediately, that the field were going to be very closely matched and indeed at the end of the thirty minutes Javi found himself in 14 th place with a time of 1m 48.722s, despite some braking problems, but only just over eight tenths of a second behind the second fastest car.
As the 30 minute Qualifying session began in the afternoon Javier knew that he would need to be amongst the fastest runners in order to be on the front few rows of the grid in order to give himself a chance of a podium position in Saturday's Feature Race. Almost as soon as the session began it was red-flagged when Kobayashi spun off and hit the wall and further yellow flag incidents together with heavy traffic made it very difficult to get into a rhythm out on the track. With only 8 minutes to go it looked as if Javi was in serious trouble as he was slowest of all the runners but using all his experience he began to reduce his lap times as the track got faster in the closing minutes. As the session came to a close Javier reduced his lap time to 1m 46.813s, fast enough to repeat his fourteenth fastest time of the morning and only just over half a second away from a top 6 place.
Starting from the seventh row of the grid for tomorrow's Feature Race will make things difficult for Javier but, as he has shown in the past, a low grid position doesn't mean the young Spaniard can be dismissed. For Javi his first priority will be to make a good start and keep out of trouble in the opening laps and then try to gain as many places as possible in order to score some more points and also to give him the best possible grid position for Sunday's Sprint Race.
Javier Villa's own words:
"Fourteenth was not as expected, I was struggling a little bit with the car setup, especially under braking although we were improving quite a lot from free practice to qualifying. In the last qualifying lap I made a little mistake at the very last corner and that cost us three tenths, without that we'd have been ninth. For tomorrow we can still improve and the track is wide and offers some chances to pass, the most difficult parts are the hard braking areas, but we have got today's problems well localized so I think we can move forward."