Patrick Carpentier set the fastest time in an eventful warm-up session at Brands Hatch this morning, the Canadian making up for lost time in previous sessions, and lapping comfortably ahead of the field. There was one red flag as Joel Camathias...
Patrick Carpentier set the fastest time in an eventful warm-up session at Brands Hatch this morning, the Canadian making up for lost time in previous sessions, and lapping comfortably ahead of the field. There was one red flag as Joel Camathias got stuck in the gravel at Druids and several drivers spun at various points around the circuit.
The pit lane echoed with the howl of engines and Michael Jourdain led out all the cars on to the circuit at 10am. Paul Tracy made clear his intentions on his first flying lap with a time of 49.885s. This time was way off the competitive pace but four seconds faster than anyone else on that lap.
Tracy then led the cars in for a series of practice stops along the garages. At this point it became clear how tight the pit lane in and there were several very near-misses as drivers pulled out in front of other cars.
Bruno Junqueira pulled straight into the pits on his out lap and the mechanics took the bodywork off the side of the car. He remained there for about ten minutes as the electronics on his car were examined.
Joel Camathias stayed out while most cars pitted and he made a rare visit to the top of the timesheets. Camathias exchanged fastest times along with fellow rookies Tiago Monteiro and Patrick Lemarie.
Alex Tagliani had a moment in the final corner when he spun sideways and came to a stop on the racing line. Tagliani turned into the pits for a practice stop and then continued. Lemarie also had an off the final corner by running wide very early and understeering into the gravel. He kept his momentum and was able rejoin the track and pit so that the mechanics could clean his car. Even local expert Darren Manning often had to correct twitches in this final turn.
Paul Tracy went to the top of the timesheets with a 38.336s lap. Sebastien Bourdais soon joined Tracy at the top with a lap just 0.006s slower and then went quicker with a 38.2s.
Carpentier ran very quickly all morning. He had suffered electrical problems in one of the previous practice session and used the warm-up to do some fast laps and set-up work.
There was a red flag 16 minutes into the session as Joel Camathias went off at Druids hairpin. He locked up under braking and went straight on but fortunately the gravel stopped the car a couple of metres before the tyre barrier. It was Camathias's second visit to that gravel trap this weekend. The car was lifted from the gravel and push-started by the marshals so that he could drive back to the garage.
Jourdain yet again led out the cars back on to the circuit for the remaining ten minutes and the drivers gradually worked up to the pace their were at before.
Tracy came in for a practice pit stop and rejoined with a spectacular powerslide into pit lane. Servia had a moment at Paddock Hill Bend and ran wide like Bourdais did yesterday. Several drivers locked up at McLaren.
The track was really busy in the closing minutes with fifteen drivers on track all lapping quickly in around 38s. Carpentier was the first driver to break this barrier with a 37.885s lap. Ryan Hunter-Reay put in an impressive late bust to go third with a 38.177. Jimmy Vasser, meanwhile, was awarded a stop-go penalty for a pit lane speed infringement.
Junqueira had a reserved session and ran the midfield throughout the 30 minutes. He followed a different pattern to the rest of the drivers by running when the track was quiet and pitting while everyone else was on track. The mechanics spent a lot of time looking at the back of Junqueira's car and talking with the driver.
Carpentier finished the session fastest, ahead of Bourdais in second, Hunter-Reay in third and Tracy in fourth. The race will start at 2 PM local time (9 AM EDT) on this warm and dry day at Brands Hatch.