Series leader Jolyon Palmer has set the record straight in this morning’s free practice: the Briton posted the quickest laptime with a blazing 1:20.707, three tenths faster than Johnny Cecotto. Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi finished third in the other DAMS car.
The session opened in overcast conditions. All cars fed onto the track on soft Pirelli tyres with Palmer sitting pretty at the top of the standings early on. As the clock continued to tick down, the track improved and so did the latpimes. Cecotto looked pretty fast, but traffic at La Rascasse meant he could not dip under 1m22s. That was not the case for Felipe Nasr: the Brazilian set a laptime of 1:21.949, but Coletti snatched the top spot going four hundredths faster than the Carlin man.
At mid-session, most drivers came back to the pits to switch to Super Soft tyres, including Nasr who was on a flier when he slightly touched the wall at the entrance of the tunnel, then missed the apex at Turn 10 and ended his course into the wall at Turn 11. The session was briefly red flagged as marshalls recovered the damaged Carlin machine. At the re-start Cecotto went P1 but once again lost a bit of time at Sector 3 behind Facu Regalia. Palmer had a clear track and broke the 1m21s barrier on super soft compounds. His laptime was never bettered.
In the dying minutes, Richlemi found some extra pace to move up to third ahead of countryman Coletti. Mitch Evans, Sergio Canamasas, Rio Haryanto, Nasr, Julian Leal and Alexander Rossi completed the top ten. The qualifying session will be divided into groups of sixteen minutes each. Following a ballot which took place during the GP2 drivers’ briefing, the two groups have been established. Group A will consist of odd numbered cars whilst Group B will consist of even numbered cars.
Monte Carlo – Free Practice
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:20.707 24
2. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:21.043 24
3. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:21.573 22
4. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:21.902 24
5. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:21.929 23
6. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:21.933 24
7. Rio Haryanto EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:21.935 21
8. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:21.949 15
9. Julian Leal Carlin 1:22.132 24
10. Alexander Rossi EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:22.183 25
11. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:22.237 26
12. Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:22.296 26
13. Rene Binder Arden International 1:22.386 23
14. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:22.442 24
15. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1:22.937 26
16. André Negrao Arden International 1:23.028 24
17. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:23.353 26
18. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:23.453 25
19 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax 1:23.545 24
20. Daniiel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:23.605 23
21. Facu Regalia Hilmer Motorsport 1:23.821 25
22. Tio Ellinas MP Motorsport 1:24.126 22
23. Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 1:24.201 24
24. Conor Daly Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:25.356 17
25. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:25.694 23
26. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus — 2