Jolyon Palmer (iSport International), GP2 Series Media

iSport driver sets the pace in opening round of the 2012 season in Malaysia

The 2012 season could not have started better for iSport’s Jolyon Palmer: the young Brit set the fastest laptime of the free practice session this morning at Sepang International Circuit with a 1:46.514. His closest rival Davide Valsecchi finished 0.1s behind.

The first free practice session of the eighth GP2 Series season opened in hot temperatures as the twenty-six drivers took to the track. Johnny Cecotto Jr was the first one out of the pitlane at the wheel of his Barwa Addax machine, but it was Valsecchi at DAMS who set the early pace in 1:48.049 – 0.2s quicker than Esteban Gutiérrez.

Palmer was the first man to dip under 1m48s, but his laptime was soon bettered by Fabio Leimer until  James Calado went top. Ten minutes into the session, Luiz Razia went quickest – 0.1s ahead of the Brit. As the Arden man set his best laptime, Sector 13 was yellow flagged after Esteban Gutiérrez stopped at Turn 12 following an incident with Cecotto. As the Venezuelan tried to pass the Mexican, the two cars collided which ended Gutiérrez’ session prematurely. The incident is under investigation.

Just before mid-session, Valsecchi found some extra pace and topped the timesheets ahead of Razia and Calado. But with ten minutes left on the clock, Palmer put his head down and broke the 1m47s barrier, setting the best laptime of the session, a clear 0.4s ahead of Valsecchi. The DAMS driver gave it another try and although he too dipped under 1m47s he was not fast enough to edge the Brit out of P1. At the chequered flag, Max Chilton made his way up to P3 ahead of Giedo van der Garde, Fabio Onidi, Felipe Nasr, Razia, Calado, Stefano Coletti and Josef Kral.

With drivers allowed to use a free downforce setup and having a choice between Prime and Option tyres, the qualifying session promises to be a classic GP2 event!

Sepang – Free Practice

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Jolyon Palmer iSport International 1:46.514

10

2. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1:46.678

12

3. Max Chilton Carlin 1:47.152

8

4. Giedo van der Garde Caterham Racing 1:47.229

11

5. Fabio Onidi Scuderia Coloni 1:47.318

11

6. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1:47.360

12

7. Luiz Razia Arden International 1:47.418

5

8. James Calado Lotus GP 1:47.532

14

9. Stefano Coletti Scuderia Coloni 1:47.533

10

10. Josef Kral Barwa Addax Team 1:47.580

12

11. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:47.616

10

12. Johnny Cecotto Barwa Addax Team 1:47.637

12

13. Esteban Gutiérrez Lotus GP 1:47.639

4

14. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:47.644

11

15. Jon Lancaster Ocean Racing Technology 1:47.681

6

16. Fabrizio Crestani Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:47.699

9

17. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:47.862

12

18. Simon Trummer Arden International 1:48.246

12

19 Rio Haryanto Carlin 1:48.259

10

20. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:48.326

12

21. Nigel Melker Ocean Racing Technology 1:48.437

14

22. Tom Dillmann Rapax 1:48.447

12

23. Julian Leal Trident Racing 1:48.746

13

24. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham Racing 1:48.764

11

25. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 1:50.549

14

26. Giancarlo Serenelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:52.306

12