Jolyon Palmer rocketed to his third GP2 Series pole on the famed Monaco streets today.
Driving for DAMS, the Englishman set the fastest time over a qualifying session split into two groups to head Rio Haryanto, Mitch Evans and Stéphane Richelmi.
Placed into ‘Group A’, Palmer dominated the opening session. The 22-year-old was the first (and only) driver of the group to break 1’21” barrier and he did so in style, while those behind scrambled for the remaining positions.
As with this morning’s practice, Palmer set a good early pace and although he faced a stiff challenge from Trident’s Johnny Cecotto Jr for a time, the DAMS racer pulled away before anyone could threaten.
With time passing following the opening run, Palmer dropped down the order – as noted by the DAMS man: “We did a lap on the used tyres early on before the new tyres which I think worked quite well. It was a good strategy. And then I was left to watching group B and hope no one would get any quicker.”
However Palmer would soon respond with a perfectly timed lap on new Pirelli’s at 1:20.774, to break his fellow competitors.
Following the session, Palmer was understandably ecstatic. “I’ve always been quick here. It’s probably one of the most exhilarating day to do [qualifying] in Monaco. It’s the most adrenaline you get all year.” He added, “Everything came together really well. The team did a really good job. It’s not been their strongest track before so we did a lot of work and the car was really good today. Everything was in place.”
Evans was 2nd quickest in Group A, with a late effort promoting him above Cecotto Jr, whose best of 1:21.361 was enough for him to cling on to 3rd place, ahead of Daniel Abt and Raffaele Marciello. Caterham’s Alexander Rossi is to line-up on the sixth row for the Feature.
The second group was slow to build pace, with Sergio Canamasas the first to set a representative time some six minutes into the session. Thereafter the times tumbled, as first Stefano Coletti, Julian Leal and then Haryanto, Richelmi and Stoffel Vandoorne made their presence felt.
Coletti was the first of the group to set a truly eye-catching time when he notched up a 1:21.694, only for Vandoorne to pip that by mere thousandths moments later.
With four minutes remaining, Haryanto set the bar too high for the ‘Group B’ competition, when he claimed a 1:21.443 to go top. Richelmi came closest – his best was a mere 0.11s shy of Haryanto; however the Monegasque driver will rue having two fast laps ruined by traffic.
Vandoorne’s best of 1:21.508 was good enough for 3rd in ‘Group B’ and 6th overall. Coletti will have to do what he can from 8th on the grid, when he proved unable to improve on his final two tours.
There was one minor scare during qualifying – that came when Adrian Quaife-Hobbs overshot St Devote halfway through ‘Group B’; however the Englishman survived and will start from 18th tomorrow.
2014 GP2 Series (Rd 3, Qualifying, Monaco) Pos Driver Team Time Session 1. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1m20.774s Group A 2. Rio Haryanto Caterham 1m21.433s Group B 3. Mitch Evans Russian Time 1m21.188s Group A 4. Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1m21.444s Group B 5. Johnny Cecotto Jr Trident 1m21.361s Group A 6. Stoffel Vandoorne ART 1m21.508s Group B 7. Daniel Abt Hilmer 1m21.760s Group A 8. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1m21.649s Group B 9. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1m21.917s Group A 10. Julian Leal Carlin 1m21.752s Group B 11. Alexander Rossi Caterham 1m22.146s Group A 12. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1m21.926s Group B 13. Simon Trummer Rapax 1m22.296s Group A 14. Arthur Pic Campos 1m22.207s Group B 15. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1m22.381s Group A 16. Rene Binder Arden 1m22.270s Group B 17. Kimiya Sato Campos 1m22.588s Group A 18. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax 1m22.277s Group B 19. Tio Ellinas MP 1m22.681s Group A 20. Facu Regalia Hilmer 1m22.473s Group B 21. Conor Daly Lazarus 1m22.997s Group A 22. Daniel de Jong MP 1m22.488s Group B 23. Andre Negrao Arden 1m23.178s Group A 24. Nathanael Berthon Lazarus 1m22.632s Group B 25. Takuya Izawa ART 1m23.259s Group A 26. Artem Markelov Russian Time 1m23.347s Group B