Belgian ace leads ART Grand Prix front row in Bahrain

McLaren F1 test driver Stoffel Vandoorne started his 2015 campaign the way he finished his previous one by putting his ART car on pole position in tonight’s qualifying session at Bahrain International Circuit. The Belgian ace clocked a laptime of 1:39.237, three tenths better than teammate and Honda protégé Nobuharu Matsushita making it an ART front row. 2014 GP3 Series Champion and Williams F1 development driver Alex Lynn finished third.

The night-time qualifying session opened in much cooler conditions compared to the earlier free practice. All drivers fed onto the track on their Pirelli Soft tyres and Vandoorne wasted no time: on his first flying lap, he recorded a laptime of 1:39.493, one tenth quicker than Arthur Pic and two tenths faster than Jordan King.

With ten minutes left in the session and after everyone came back into the pits for some fresh rubbers, Lynn seemed to be on a mission and moved up from ninth to second. But Vandoorne was not done yet and found some extra pace, lighting sectors one and two in purple and crossing the start/finish line three tenths clear from his closest rival who happened to be teammate Matsushita. The Japanese rookie found a clean lap and set a laptime of 1:39.545, claiming P2 and a front row start on his GP2 debut.

At the chequered flag, Vandoorne enjoyed a fifth consecutive GP2 pole proving if need be that he will be the man to beat tomorrow. Behind Matsushita and Lynn, Pic was unable to improve on his first stint’s best laptime and had to settle for fourth ahead of Raffaele Marciello. The Italian was able to put his Trident in P5 on his final attempt after his first qualifying laps was compromised by mechanical gremlins. King, Norman Nato, Alexander Rossi, Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin completed the top ten.

Sakhir – Qualifying Session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:39.237 11
2. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:39.545 11
3. Alex Lynn DAMS 1:39.599 11
4. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:39.630 11
5. Raffaele Marciello Trident 1:39.645 8
6. Jordan King Racing Engineering 1:39.770 11
7. Norman Nato Arden International 1:39.857 11
8. Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1:39.872 12
9. Pierre Gasly DAMS 1:39.877 12
10. Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 1:39.887 12
11. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:39.955 11
12. Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 1:39.961 10
13. Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 1:39.999 11
14. Robert Visoiu Rapax 1:40.128 12
15. Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1:40.251 11
16. Julian Leal Carlin 1:40.353 12
17. Sergio Canamasas MP Motorsport 1:40.434 12
18. Marco Sorensen Carlin 1:40.444 12
19 André Negrao Arden International 1:40.634 11
20. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:40.653 11
21. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:40.654 11
22. Rene Binder Trident 1:40.773 10
23. Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1:40.995 11
24. Zoel Amberg Lazarus 1:41.690 11