Gutierrez fastest in final GP2 pre-season test

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Sauber’s Formula 1 reserve, Esteban Gutierrez, headed the final GP2 pre-season test in Barcelona before packing up for the season start.

On a bright and sunny Thursday, Gutierrez – who was also fastest the previous day – set a fastest lap of 1:29.154 in the morning.
The Mexican eventually logged a total of 77 laps around the 2.9 mile-long Circuit de Catalunya.

It marks yet another positive signal for Gutierrez, as he readies himself for what may be a key season in his young career*.

GP2 veteran Davide Valsecchi was next up in his DAMS machine after completing 63 tours of the circuit, while Rapax racer Tom Dillmann ended the day an encouraging 3rd (58 laps). Max Chilton headed the Carlin charge in 4th, although the Briton fell one-thousandth short of Dillmann on his quickest run.
Caterham Racing’s Giedo van der Garde enjoyed a small advantage over James Calado (Lotus, 6th, 71 laps)*** and Tuesday’s fast man, Fabrizio Crestani (Venezuela GP Lazarus, 7th, 40 laps).

Crestani was the first driver to break into the ‘1:29’s’, before being overhauled as the day progressed. The Italian’s time at the top was artificially extended, when Scuderia Coloni’s Fabio Onidi spun off, bringing out an early red flag. There were further stoppages later, when the cars of Simon Trummer (Arden) and Johnny Cecotto Jr (Barwa Addax) both needed to be retrieved.
Nigel Melker (Ocean Racing Technology, 64 laps), Onidi (48 laps) and Stephane Richelmi (Trident, 59 laps) rounded out the top ten.

Dillmann would later top the slower afternoon session, as he – and most others – completed last chance race simulations and pitstop practices. Stefano Coletti, Crestani and Felipe Nasr ended the afternoon just shy of Dillmann.
Trummer caused another red flag soon after a lunch with a spin that damaged his car, ensuring the Swiss pilot managed only a single tour in the afternoon. Julian Leal and Nasr brought out two more red flag periods, when they stopped on track.

The teams will soon be on their way to Sepang for the opening round of the season, which takes place over March 24th-25th.

* {note 1}
Gutierrez debuted in GP2 at the beginning of the now defunct Asia Series** last February at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. During a season mired by disappointments, he achieved one race victory (Sprint Race, Valencia) on his way to 13th in the Championship.

** {note 1b}
This is the same GP2 Asia Series that had not visited the Asian continent since its April 2009 visit to Sepang – which is also the venue for the Main Series’ opening round this year.

*** {note 2}
For some reason, the GP2 timing system has either given an incorrect time for James Calado (more than possible) or they placed him in the wrong position (now that’s just plain silly).

Combined times:
Pos  Driver                   Team                      Time     Laps
 1.  Esteban Gutierrez        Lotus GP                  1:29.154  77 
 2.  Davide Valsecchi         DAMS                      1:29.318  63
 3.  Tom Dillmann             Rapax                     1:29.455  58
 4.  Max Chilton              Carlin                    1:29.456  77
 5.  Giedo van der Garde      Caterham Racing           1:29.490  66
 6.  James Calado             Lotus GP                  1:29.599  71
 7.  Fabrizio Crestani        Venezuela GP Lazarus      1:29.581  40
 8.  Nigel Melker             Ocean Racing Technology   1:29.632  64
 9.  Fabio Onidi              Scuderia Coloni           1:29.679  48 
10.  Stéphane Richelmi        Trident Racing            1:29.694  59 
11.  Luiz Razia               Arden International       1:29.748  82 
12.  Jolyon Palmer            iSport International      1:29.849  58 
13.  Stefano Coletti          Scuderia Coloni           1:29.918  53 
14.  Marcus Ericsson          iSport International      1:29.977  51 
15.  Fabio Leimer             Racing Engineering        1:30.047  52 
16.  Nathanaël Berthon        Racing Engineering        1:30.055  59 
17.  Julian Leal              Trident Racing            1:30.075  79 
18.  Rio Haryanto             Carlin                    1:30.211  50 
19.  Josef Kral               Barwa Addax Team          1:30.250  70 
20.  Johnny Cecotto           Barwa Addax Team          1:30.287  80 
21.  Simon Trummer            Arden International       1:30.477  24 
22.  Rodolfo Gonzalez         Caterham Racing           1:30.680  70 
23.  Jon Lancaster            Ocean Racing Technology   1:30.724  55 
24.  Felipe Nasr              DAMS                      1:30.740  61 
25.  Ricardo Teixeira         Rapax                     1:31.406  59 
26.  Giancarlo Serenelli      Venezuela GP Lazarus      1:32.872  57
^ Noted compiled from live updates and releases.

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