GP2 Asia Pre-Season Testing (Yas Marina, February 7th)

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.

Morning Session

Driver Team Laptime Laps
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
7. Max Chilton Carlin 1:36.413 24
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
18. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:36.983 28
19. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:37.009 38
20. Julian Leal Rapax 1:37.055 35
21. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1:37.082 14
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
26. Pål Varhaug Dams 1:37.540 32

Afternoon Session

Driver Team Laptime Laps
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
8. Max Chilton Carlin 1:36.568 37
9. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:36.575 24
10. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:36.619 38
11. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:36.670 22
12. Julian Leal Rapax 1:36.700 25
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
18. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1:37.054 24
19. Oliver Turvey Ocean Racing Technology 1:37.201 29
20. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:37.219 20
21. Pål Varhaug Dams 1:37.311 35
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

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