GP2 Series Media

German on top in opening session of the 2011 season in Istanbul

Christian Vietoris laid down a marker in the first session of the 2011 season, claiming the top spot in the last minute of a wet free practice at Istanbul Park ahead of Romain Grosjean and Giedo van der Garde.

The German’s best lap time of 1:43.399 was two tenths faster than his nearest rival, who had also improved his lap just before the close of a fairly dramatic session in gloomy conditions. The session opened with rain drizzling all over the circuit, and it never quite stopped across the next half hour.

Vietoris, Grosjean and Stefano Coletti set the early pace, although they were soon back in the pits courtesy of a red flag period brought about by Esteban Gutierrez’s wild ride through turn nine: the Mexican rode the outside kerb and was thrown onto the inside wall, stopping in the middle of the track and handing his mechanics a tough job ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session.

When the session restarted a number of drivers spun in the treacherous conditions, with Jules Bianchi notably replaying his teammates earlier accident (albeit with less damage to the car). Van der Garde claimed the top spot with 8 minutes remaining , and the assumption was that his rivals would pull up and save some tyres for what looks set to be a wet weekend.

This assumption was wrong, however, as a number of drivers improved their time on the final tour of the circuit: Grosjean and then Vietoris improved on the Dutchman’s time, with Bianchi, Max Chilton, Dani Clos, Coletti and Luca Filippi lining up behind the top three on the timesheets, giving an indication of the fight for pole this afternoon.

Istanbul – Free Practice

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:43.399

12

2. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:43.618

11

3. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:43,992

12

4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:44.697

11

5. Max Chilton Carlin 1:44.745

11

6. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:44.811

7

7. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:45.066

11

8. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:45.135

11

9. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:45.281

11

10. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:45.354

11

11. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:45.601

12

12. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:45.744

13

13. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:45.770

12

14. Sam Bird iSport International 1:45.864

10

15. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:45.888

13

16. Mikhaïl Aleshin Carlin 1:45.932

10

17. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:46.034

12

18. Josef Kral Arden International 1:46.202

12

19. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:46.420

3

20. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:46.493

11

21. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:46.641

12

22. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:46.991

8

23. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:47.015

11

24. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:47.269

12

25. Julian Leal Rapax 1:47.608

10

26. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:49.251

2