GP2 Series Media

The first 2011 pre-season testing opened today at Silverstone in cold, wet and windy conditions. While Christian Vietoris rejoined Racing Engineering for the European season, Ocean Racing welcomed a new line up consisting of Johnny Cecotto and rookie Kevin Mirocha. Davide Rigon returned to GP2 at Scuderia Coloni and Oliver Turvey assisted Carlin in the absence of Mikhail Aleshin.

The twenty-six drivers braved the tricky track conditions as soon as the pitlane opened this morning, all of them eager to get as much mileage as possible in the GP2/11 car on Pirelli wet weather tyres. GP2 Asia Series Champion Romain Grosjean was the early pacesetter ahead of Davide Valsecchi and Esteban Gutierrez. But at mid-session, it was iSport’s Marcus Ericsson who went top, five hundredths quicker than the Dams’ man. As the clock kept ticking, GP3 Series Champion Gutierrez became the first man to break the 1:58 barrier setting a laptime of 1:57.400 – six tenths quicker than Ericsson. Grosjean later matched the young Mexican’s performance, but Gutierrez stayed in control of the timing sheets. Lotus ART’s Jules Bianchi then went quickest, going under 1:57 and improving his teammate’s laptime by seven tenths. Carlin’s Max Chilton and Cecotto also improved to edge Gutierrez out.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Bianchi bettered and broke the 1:56 barrier while Gutierrez moved up to P2 and Addax’s Charles Pic made his way to P3. But in the dying seconds, Arden’s rookie Jolyon Palmer moved up to P2. A third and final red flag closed the morning session.

The afternoon session started on a slightly dryer track and with Grosjean as the early pacesetter, four hundredths quicker than Coloni’s Rigon. The Italian later lapped the British circuit in 1:52.243 which put him at the top of the timing sheet, and three seconds ahead of his closest rival. While some teams were hard at work with pitstop practice, Addax’s duo Giedo van der Garde and Pic improved their laptimes and moved up to P2 and P3 respectively.

On a drying track, Grosjean got back on top, but Trident’s Stefano Coletti decided to put on slick tyres before everyone else and immediately bettered the Dams’ driver’s laptime, setting a fastest laptime of 1:44.085. Ericsson and Fairuz Fauzy also chose to go out on slick tyres and the two men played catch up with Coletti, but the Monegasque driver kept on improving his personal best to stay at the top.

However, thirty minutes before the end of session, iSport’s Ericsson went top, two tenths quicker than Coletti. The rest of the field then decided that it was time to go out on slick tyres as well. Valsecchi, Filippi, Roldolfo Gonzalez, Julian Leal, Luiz Razia and Palmer entered in the top ten, just as Fabio Leimer at Rapax climbed at the top of the timesheets, with Vietoris and Filippi in tow. It was then Arden’s Josef Kral took control of the timing sheet just fifteen minutes before the end of the session and while Bianchi pushed his way to P3. Just as Grosjean set the quickest laptime in 1:40.725, the proceedings were interrupted by a red flag caused by Fauzy losing control of his car on the Astroturf, eight minutes before the chequered flag. The session did not restart and the Frenchman finished on top ahead of Kral, Leimer, Sam Bird, Bianchi, Vietoris, Filippi, Leal, Herck and van der Garde..

The testing will continue tomorrow at Silverstone.

Morning session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:55.769 29
2. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:56.146 22
3. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:56.236 21
4. Charles Pic Barwa Addax 1:56.244 29
5. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax 1:56.496 22
6. Max Chilton Carlin 1:56.841 21
7. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:57.027 25
8. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:57.270 21
9. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:57.296 25
10. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:57.452 19
11. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1:57.472 11
12. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:57.576 24
13. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:57.788 29
14. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:57.850 27
15. Julian Leal Rapax 1:57.871 20
16. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:58.027 17
17. Sam Bird iSport International 1:58.289 19
18. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:58.293 40
19. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:58.319 14
20. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:58.439 30
21. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:58.770 10
22. Josef Kral Arden International 1:58.048 21
23. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 2:00.070 17
24. Fabio Leimer Rapax 2:00.228 26
25. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 2:00.299 13
26. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing — 2

Afternoon Session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:40.725 17
2. Josef Kral Arden International 1:41.361 11
3. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:41.480 14
4. Sam Bird iSport International 1:41.525 14
5. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:41.555 15
6. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:41.639 15
7. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:41.651 14
8. Julian Leal Rapax 1:41.781 15
9. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:41.819 20
10. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:41.900 13
11. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1:42.103 17
12. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:42.147 17
13. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:42.231 18
14. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:42.360 18
15. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:42.376 21
16. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:42.399 16
17. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:42.488 9
18. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:42.508 12
19. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:42.509 16
20. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:42.929 13
21. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:43.125 14
22. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:43.450 17
23. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:43.479 18
24. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:43.919 16
25. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:44.029 21
26. Max Chilton Carlin 1:55.587 3