GP2 Series Media

Asia champ continues strong form

Romain Grosjean has picked up where he left off in the GP2 Asia Series by claiming the first pole position for this year’s main Series, ahead of Sam Bird and Luca Filippi, this afternoon at the Istanbul Park circuit.

The Frenchman’s best lap of 1:34.398 was the target for the final 20 minutes of the session, and although Filippi went close and then Bird closer still to be within a tenth of pole, three red flag periods broke the session up sufficiently for Grosjean to hold on for the first points of the season.

Qualifying opened under dry but still cold conditions, with Fabio Leimer, Dani Clos, Grosjean and Jules Bianchi swapping best times, and Bird close but held up by traffic. Grosjean put himself on the top of the timesheets just prior to Davide Valsecchi stopping on the circuit and then rolling backwards, forcing a red flag stop for the field.

Bird and Filippi were among the first drivers back on track, and made good use of the space: the Italian ran just three tenths short of Grosjean’s target with Bird splitting the pair just seconds later, but when Mikhail Aleshin hit the wall hard at the end of the back straight there was no option but to bring out the red flags once again.

When the track cleared the session got under way once more, but the cool temperatures meant there was little more to be gained and, when Michael Herck replayed Aleshin’s incident in the final minute, the red re-emerged and the session was closed. Lining up on tomorrow’s grid behind the top three are Bianchi, Clos, Luiz Razia, Charles Pic and Valsecchi: with rain now expected to hold off tomorrow, the opening round of the 2011 calendar promises fireworks.

Istanbul – Qualifying session

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:34.398

11

2. Sam Bird iSport International 1:34.483

13

3. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:34.709

11

4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:34.784

12

5. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:34.797

12

6. Luiz Razi Team AirAsia 1:34.888

11

7. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:34.954

13

8. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:34.975

13

9. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:34.981

11

10. Josef Kral Arden International 1:35.050

11

11. Max Chilton Carlin 1:35.110

11

12. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:35.140

11

13. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:35.159

12

14. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:35.164

13

15. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:35.182

11

16. Johnny Cecotto Jr Ocean Racing Technology 1:35.360

11

17. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:35.369

14

18. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:35.375

13

19. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:35.428

13

20. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:35.545

12

21. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:35.681

12

22. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:35.825

12

23. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1:35.873

7

24. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:35.973

13

25. Julian Leal Rapax 1:36.168

11

26. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:36.187

12