Series leader quickest in morning free practice
Series leader Jolyon Palmer has set the record straight in this morning’s free practice: the Briton posted the quickest laptime with a blazing 1:20.707, three tenths faster than Johnny Cecotto. Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi finished third in the other DAMS car.
The session opened in overcast conditions. All cars fed onto the track on soft Pirelli tyres with Palmer sitting pretty at the top of the standings early on. As the clock continued to tick down, the track improved and so did the latpimes. Cecotto looked pretty fast, but traffic at La Rascasse meant he could not dip under 1m22s. That was not the case for Felipe Nasr: the Brazilian set a laptime of 1:21.949, but Coletti snatched the top spot going four hundredths faster than the Carlin man.
At mid-session, most drivers came back to the pits to switch to Super Soft tyres, including Nasr who was on a flier when he slightly touched the wall at the entrance of the tunnel, then missed the apex at Turn 10 and ended his course into the wall at Turn 11. The session was briefly red flagged as marshalls recovered the damaged Carlin machine. At the re-start Cecotto went P1 but once again lost a bit of time at Sector 3 behind Facu Regalia. Palmer had a clear track and broke the 1m21s barrier on super soft compounds. His laptime was never bettered.
In the dying minutes, Richlemi found some extra pace to move up to third ahead of countryman Coletti. Mitch Evans, Sergio Canamasas, Rio Haryanto, Nasr, Julian Leal and Alexander Rossi completed the top ten. The qualifying session will be divided into groups of sixteen minutes each. Following a ballot which took place during the GP2 drivers’ briefing, the two groups have been established. Group A will consist of odd numbered cars whilst Group B will consist of even numbered cars.