May 7, 2011 Leave a comment
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