Fifty kilograms lighter than in Abu Dhabi a pair of Aston Martins will occupy the front from for the 'Qualifying Race' of the Silverstone round of the FIA GT1 World Championship.
The Saturday morning session which saw the drivers take to track without an earlier warm-up – instead having to rely on yesterday (Friday's) pair of sessions on the brand new Arena layout.
It also marked the de facto debut of the championship's three part qualifying after the Abu Dhabi sessions was cut short by Natacha Gachnang's heavy accident late in the first part of qualifying. Like F1's now familiar scenario the first 20 minutes session sees the 23 car field (the second Matech Competition entry absent) reduced to 16, with eight surviving Q2 for a final 'Pole Shootout' session.
After a fortnight of arguing and threatened boycotts almost every car in the field was altered in some way – oddly the only car to keep any continuity was the Ford GT – the car that won so commandingly at Abu Dhabi.
However, whether caused by the improvements of the other teams or the sudden change in the balance of the performance the Matech Competition squad never looked likely to repeat their earlier form. Their now lone car, in the hands of Thomas Mutsch and Romain Grosjean had been stranded in the lower reached of the timesheets on Friday, and the team struggled to even make it through the first part of qualifying.
With Grosjean in the car it recorded the 15th fastest time (2:00.885) in the opening 20 minutes, a session which saw the Swiss/Frenchman go exploring the new layout, running wide onto the dirt around the new double left-handers of The Loop and Aintree Corner.
That should have been a hint of things to come as the drivers changed over for Q2 (compulsory under the rules) and Thomas Mutsch was unable to improve on 15th (2:02.113), bemoaning a lack of straight-line speed on what is now a very fast Silverstone track – the pole-sitter's average speed nudging 260kmph.
That pole sitter was the Young Driver AMR car shared by works Aston pilots Darren Turner and Tomas Enge, Turner taking the position in the dying moments of the session with a lap of 1:58.808.
The DB9s had been rapid throughout qualifying, the sister Young Driver car of Stefan Mucke and Christoffer Nygaard topping G1, before the Hexis AMR entry for Clivio Piccione and Jonathan Hirschi went fastest in Q2.
However, it was the other Hexis entry (Fred Makowieki and Thomas Accary) who proved to be their closest rivals (1:59.287) for the pole ahead of the Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R of Peter Dumbreck and Michael Krumm – another team benefitting from Post Abu Dhabi re-weighting, the Nissan's minimum weight lowered by 20kg. Despite this the Swiss Racing Team duo of GT-Rs still went out after the first part of qualifying, their best efforts two-tenths shy of the required time.
Fourth is the no.1 Vitaphone Maserati of Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertonlini – the only MC12 in the final eight after the car topped both Friday sessions. The second Sumo Power Nissan, and Hexis AMR entry plus the two Reiter Lamborghinis – no.25 and no.24 – round out the top eight.
The next on track action for the GT1 field is the Qualifying Race, which starts at 5:15pm