As the final day of GP2 Asia pre-season testing wrapped up at the Yas Marina, Jules Bianchi and Davide Valsecchi once again outlined their potential.
Bianchi topped the morning session at a slightly shortened version of the Abu Dhabi circuit with a best of 1:35.940 from his 34 lap run – a mere 0.085 quicker than Team Air Asia’s Valsecchi. Next up were the iSport International pair of Sam Bird (3rd, 30 laps) and Marcus Ericsson (4th, 26 laps); both of whom registered best laps just over two-tenths down on the quickest man.
Bianchi’s Lotus-ART teammate, Esteban Gutierrez trailed in 5th spot. The Mexican clocked 30 circulations of Yas Marina, managing a best of 1:36.366 – a lap that gave Gutierrez a slim advantage over Josef Kral (6th, Arden), Max Chilton (7th, Carlin) and Dani Clos (8th, Racing Engineering).
The second Arden driver, Jolyon Palmer was busiest runner of the morning. The ex-Formula 2 driver completed 44 laps; however he could do no better than 1:36.751, leaving Palmer languishing down in 13th.
With the start of the season only days away, the afternoon session saw many drivers concentrate on race runs, resulting in slightly slower times.
Davide Valsecchi used his GP2 experience to good effect, as he led the way come the chequered flag. A best lap of 1:36.159 was enough to top his Team Air Asia teammate, Luiz Razia; albeit, only by 0.013 of-a-second. Once again the iSport pairing of Sam Bird and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top four, with the Englishman leading the way assuredly.
Charles Pic completed 20 laps for his Barwa Addax team on his way to 5th on the time sheets. The Frenchman registered a quickest afternoon time of 1:36.493, leaving him less than one-tenth faster than a group containing Rodolfo Gonzalez (6th, Trident), Josef Kral (7th), Max Chilton (8th) and Stefano Coletti (9th, Trident). Dani Clos rounded out the top-ten.
Esteban Gutierrez did the most running of the afternoon as he put together a 42-lap run; however he and his Lotus-ART teammate Jules Bianchi found themselves rooted to the bottom of the timesheets, 2-and-a-half seconds off of Valsecchi’s pace.
Although the morning was clear of incident, the afternoon was not. The final hours witnessed four red flag periods – indeed the final stoppage was due to a collision between Valsecchi and DAMS runner Romain Grosjean.
Undoubtedly, the driver with both the biggest advantage and the most to lose going into this year’s GP2 Asia Championship is Team Air Asia’s Davide Valsecchi. The Italian racer is the reigning Series Champion from last spring and a positive of this short three round Championship may help him take another step forward in the Main series.
On the other hand, should Valsecchi not win again, it may see the young man stutter slightly in his career. He has joined a brand new GP2 team – albeit one aligned to the Team Lotus Formula 1 squad – and has a quick, if inconsistent teammate in Luiz Razia. However, as this year’s Championship only contains three rounds (six brief races in all), will it register highly enough for anyone to take note?
Practice and qualifying for the opening round of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series begins on Thursday at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
|1.||Jules Bianchi||Lotus ART||1:35.940||34|
|2.||Davide Valsecchi||Team AirAsia||1:36.025||37|
|3.||Sam Bird||iSport International||1:36.154||30|
|4.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:36.175||26|
|5.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||1:36.366||30|
|6.||Josef Kral||Arden International||1:36.403||32|
|8.||Dani Clos||Racing Engineering||1:36.430||23|
|9.||Charles Pic||Barwa Addax Team||1:36.491||37|
|10.||Andrea Caldarelli||Ocean Racing Technology||1:36.609||31|
|11.||Giedo van der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||1:36.613||26|
|12.||Luiz Razia||Team AirAsia||1:36.739||27|
|13.||Jolyon Palmer||Arden International||1:36.751||44|
|14.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Trident Racing||1:36.771||26|
|15.||Stefano Coletti||Trident Racing||1:36.832||25|
|16.||Michael Herck||Scuderia Coloni||1:36.835||19|
|17.||Fairuz Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||1:36.914||28|
|22.||Oliver Turvey||Ocean Racing Technology||1:37.244||24|
|23.||James Jakes||Scuderia Coloni||1:37.326||32|
|24.||Johnny Cecotto||Super Nova Racing||1:37.415||20|
|25.||Nathanael Berthon||Racing Engineering||1:37.521||22|
|1.||Davide Valsecchi||Team AirAsia||1:36.159||21|
|2.||Luiz Razia||Team AirAsia||1:36.172||31|
|3.||Sam Bird||iSport International||1:36.277||31|
|4.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:36.464||26|
|5.||Charles Pic||Barwa Addax Team||1:36.493||20|
|6.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Trident Racing||1:36.527||26|
|7.||Josef Kral||Arden International||1:36.541||35|
|9.||Stefano Coletti||Trident Racing||1:36.575||24|
|10.||Dani Clos||Racing Engineering||1:36.619||38|
|13.||Michael Herck||Scuderia Coloni||1:36.716||28|
|14.||Johnny Cecotto||Super Nova Racing||1:36.721||32|
|15.||Andrea Caldarelli||Ocean Racing Technology||1:36.727||35|
|16.||Fairuz Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||1:36.845||24|
|17.||Giedo van der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||1:36.918||16|
|19.||Oliver Turvey||Ocean Racing Technology||1:37.201||29|
|22.||Jolyon Palmer||Arden International||1:37.554||30|
|23.||James Jakes||Scuderia Coloni||1:37.632||14|
|24.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||1:38.548||42|
|25.||Nathanael Berthon||Racing Engineering||1:38.683||24|
|26.||Jules Bianchi||Lotus ART||1:38.707||34|