No suprises…yet

Romain Grosjean partially followed the expected script by taking pole position in yesterday’s qualifying session, which was hectic and led to very unsafe racing as track time was significantly hindered by the morning’s useless free practice session.

We have yet to understand the hard crashes by Aleshin, ruled out of today’s race due to a hand injury, and Herck.   Though not confirmed, brake failure may be a cause and needs to be looked into as soon as possible, since the new chassis may still have some teething problems.

Less than one-tenth behind Grosjean was Sam Bird, just bettering his 2010 season opener performance when he qualified 2nd behind Bianchi and Perez at Barcelona.  Behind Bird was a fantastic Luca Filippi, making the most of his chance at the fledgling Super Nova team, at a track where he gave this same team a podium finish in 2009.  The rest of the top 15 were within half a second of Luca, who was closely followed by Bianchi, Clos, Razia, Pic, Vietoris, Kral and a suprising Max Chilton.

Other positive surprises were Kral, who had a very anonymous preseason and Luiz Razia who outqualified Valsecchi (even before his penalty).  On the negative side, I was quite surprised to see Rigon so far down, as Coloni (not surprisingly, and somewhat expectedly!) failed to reproduce their preseason form.  Finally, Leimer surely expected to be higher up, as did both Ericsson and Gutierrez, who will both have a very hard time to get into the points today.

I think Grosjean will come under serious pressure tomorrow, and as commented in my preseason review the Frenchman will need to show his dominance over a long race distance and keep his cool if he is to win what many see as his season.  For one, I’m not too sure this is, and especially at this race Bird and Bianchi will both have a say in this.

Rain is not expected, so let’s hope for a safe and fun race for all the fans…

Times from Autosport:

 1.  Romain Grosjean      DAMS                1m34.398s
 2.  Sam Bird             iSport              1m34.483s  + 0.085s
 3.  Luca Filippi         Super Nova          1m34.709s  + 0.311s
 4.  Jules Bianchi        ART                 1m34.784s  + 0.386s
 5.  Dani Clos            Racing Engineering  1m34.797s  + 0.399s
 6.  Luiz Razia           AirAsia             1m34.888s  + 0.490s
 7.  Charles Pic          Addax               1m34.954s  + 0.556s
 8.  Christian Vietoris   Racing Engineering  1m34.981s  + 0.583s
 9.  Josef Kral           Arden               1m35.050s  + 0.652s
10.  Max Chilton          Carlin              1m35.110s  + 0.712s
11.  Giedo van der Garde  Addax               1m35.140s  + 0.742s
12.  Jolyon Palmer        Arden               1m35.159s  + 0.761s
13.  Fabio Leimer         Rapax               1m35.164s  + 0.766s
14.  Stefano Coletti      Trident             1m35.182s  + 0.784s
15.  Johnny Cecotto Jr    Ocean               1m35.360s  + 0.962s
16.  Davide Rigon         Coloni              1m35.369s  + 0.971s
17.  Davide Valsecchi     AirAsia             penalty
19.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport              1m35.375s  + 0.977s
19.  Fairuz Fauzy         Super Nova          1m35.428s  + 1.030s
20.  Michael Herck        Coloni              1m35.545s  + 1.147s
21.  Pal Varhaug          DAMS                1m35.681s  + 1.283s
22.  Kevin Mirocha        Ocean               1m35.825s  + 1.427s
23.  Mikhail Aleshin      Carlin              1m35.873s  + 1.475s
24.  Esteban Gutierrez    ART                 1m35.973s  + 1.575s
25.  Julian Leal          Rapax               1m36.168s  + 1.770s
26.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Trident             1m36.187s  + 1.789s
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