GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean may have graduated to Formula 1, but his replacement at the DAMS team Davide Valsecchi has ensured that the French squad remain in P1 in his absence.
The Italian veteran, who will be contesting his fifth campaign in the feeder series this year, recorded the fastest time of the day as pre-season testing commenced at Jerez in Spain.
Valsecchi's benchmark came in the final hour of the morning session. He displaced fellow pre-season contender Marcus Ericsson – the Swede falling to fourth by the lunch break. Auto GP graduate Fabio Onidi resumed his promising pace from the post-season testing by going second fastest for Coloni, just two thousandths of a second ahead of Jolyon Palmer, who took third at the expense of iSport teammate Ericsson.
Another of the pre-season title favourites Esteban Gutierrez was fifth fastest, just ahead of his Lotus GP teammate James Calado – who was behind the wheel of a GP2 car for the first time since crossing the line to win on his debut weekend in Abu Dhabi last November.
Stephane Richelmi was certainly the surprise of the day, and finished the first session in seventh for Trident, just ahead of the fellow Monegasque driver he replaced at Trident – Stefano Coletti (Coloni). HRT reserve driver Dani Clos was ninth fastest for Rapax, with Ocean's Nigel Melker completing the top ten.
The Caterham pairing of Rodolfo Gonzalez and Giedo van der Garde were next up, ahead of Gonzalez's fellow Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto as the best of the Addax drivers, and Abu Dhabi race winner Fabio Leimer of Racing Engineering. Max Chilton was 15th as Carlin took to the track in Marussia colours for the first time, ahead of the Arden duo of rookie Simon Trummer and fourth-year Luiz Razia.
Josef Kral and Rio Haryanto were next up for Addax and Carlin respectively, ahead of Racing Engineering's Nathanael Berthon and Trident's Julian Leal. Felipe Nasr completed his first drive of a GP2 car with 22nd place on the leaderboard for DAMS, ahead of the first of the cars of series newcomers Venezuela GP Lazarus – driven by their confirmed driver Fabrizio Crestani. Daniel De Jong (Rapax), Tom Dillmann (Ocean) and Vittorio Ghirelli (Lazarus) completed the 26 – Dillmann having damaged his car early on.
Ericsson went fastest in the slower afternoon session, with the Lotus pairing of Gutierrez and Calado taking second and third spots at the checkered flag. Leimer had improved to fourth place, ahead of Richelmi who had held top spot during the middle of the session. Cecotto was sixth, with Valsecchi seventh and Berthon eighth. Kral and Chilton rounded out the first ten, ahead of Melker and Clos.
Palmer was 13th, with Crestani improving to 14th. Coletti, Haryanto and Leal were next up, with Arden teammates Trummer and Razia again in formation. Dillmann was 20th, ahead of debutants De Jong, Nasr and Ghirelli. The Caterham duo of van der Garde and Gonzalez took two of the final three places, sandwiching Onidi.
|2.||Fabio Onidi||Scuderia Coloni||1:26.217||23|
|3.||Jolyon Palmer||iSport International||1:26.219||31|
|4.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:26.266||21|
|5.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus GP||1:26.408||22|
|6.||James Calado||Lotus GP||1:26.649||15|
|7.||StÃ©phane Richelmi||Trident Racing||1:26.888||23|
|8.||Stefano Coletti||Scuderia Coletti||1:26.891||21|
|10.||Nigel Melker||Ocean Racing Technology||1:26.944||16|
|11.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Caterham Racing||1:26.971||28|
|12.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Racing||1:26.990||20|
|13.||Johnny Cecotto||Barwa Addax Team||1:27.013||14|
|14.||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||1:27.124||18|
|16.||Simon Trummer||Arden International||1:27.408||22|
|17.||Luiz Razia||Arden International||1:27.437||15|
|18.||Josef Kral||Barwa Addax Team||1:27.519||15|
|20.||NathanaÃ«l Berthon||Racing Engineering||1:27.917||14|
|21.||Julian Leal||Trident Racing||1:28.018||26|
|23.||Fabrizio Crestani||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:28.385||26|
|24.||Daniel De Jong||Rapax||1:28.438||26|
|25.||Tom Dillmann||Ocean Racing Technology||1:28.985||6|
|26.||Vittorio Ghirelli||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:29.642||28|
|1.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:26.407||26|
|2.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus GP||1:26.496||27|
|3.||James Calado||Lotus GP||1:26.586||29|
|4.||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||1:26.776||32|
|5.||StÃ©phane Richelmi||Trident Racing||1:27.017||25|
|6.||Johnny Cecotto||Barwa Addax Team||1:27.138||16|
|8.||NathanaÃ«l Berthon||Racing Engineering||1:27.205||28|
|9.||Josef Kral||Barwa Addax Team||1:27.236||24|
|11.||Nigel Melker||Ocean Racing Technology||1:27.238||17|
|13.||Jolyon Palmer||iSport International||1:27.253||28|
|14.||Fabrizio Crestani||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:27.496||28|
|15.||Stefano Coletti||Scuderia Coloni||1:27.543||33|
|17.||Julian Leal||Trident Racing||1:27.799||19|
|18.||Simon Trummer||Arden International||1:27.838||30|
|19.||Luiz Razia||Arden international||1:27.867||20|
|20.||Tom Dillmann||Ocean Racing Technology||1:27.871||16|
|21.||Daniel de Jong||Rapax||1:27.914||24|
|23.||Vittorio Ghirelli||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:29.117||20|
|24.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Racing||1:29.472||18|
|25.||Fabio Onidi||Scuderia Coloni||1:29.492||27|
|26.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Caterham Racing||1:31.159||18|