Spanish GP2 squad Racing Engineering were pleased with how qualifying went at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Dani Clos will start Saturday's feature race from sixth on the grid, while last-minute stand-in Alvaro Parente qualified in 15th.
The team had a solid start to the weekend's running in the free practice session, where Clos ended up in ninth place. Parente meanwhile, who has replaced Christian Vietoris in the number 8 car while the German recovers from the side-effects of a heavy crash in Turkey, overcame a lack of familiarity with the new 2011 chassis and Pirelli tyres to post the 14th quickest time, less than three tenths off Clos' time.
The qualifying session proved to be extremely competitive with the top 22 drivers covered by just 1.5 seconds. Clos ended up seventh fastest, 0.6 seconds off the quickest time. A penalty handed to polesitter Jules Bianchi later promoted Clos to sixth on the grid. Parente qualified in 15th place, this time 0.7 seconds off Clos.
“Positive conclusions for today,” said Clos, “I think we made a good step forward, the team as well as myself compared to Istanbul. We still have quite some work to do, but we have a good base to work from. Tomorrow we need to be very attentive and make a good job without pushing too much too quickly.”
Parente said: “This was an exciting first day with a new car and the new tyres after eight months without driving a single-seater. It was not easy, I think I could have done better in qualifying, but it’s going to be a long race and our focus now lies on preparing for it well. We will try to conserve the tyres as much as possible and I will give my best. Then we will see what happens.”
Team president Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon commented: “Considering we have to watch our tyres for tomorrow, we had to pay attention to not ruining them. I think both drivers did very well considering the circumstances. Dani drove an intelligent qualifying, while Alvaro did very well even though he hasn’t driven a GP2 car in eight months. I am quite confident for tomorrow. Everyone in the team did an excellent job.”