Davide Valsecchi - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP2 Media Service

Same colours, new driver - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP2 Media Service

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.

Morning session

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1:26.014 23
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. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:26.888 23
8. Stefano Coletti Scuderia Coletti 1:26.891 21
9. Dani Clos Rapax 1:26.944 13
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
15. Max Chilton Carlin 1:27.187 24
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
19. Rio Haryanto Carlin 1:27.842 22
20. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:27.917 14
21. Julian Leal Trident Racing 1:28.018 26
22. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1:28.076 19
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

Afternoon Session

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
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. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:27.017 25
6. Johnny Cecotto Barwa Addax Team 1:27.138 16
7. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1:27.179 32
8. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:27.205 28
9. Josef Kral Barwa Addax Team 1:27.236 24
10. Max Chilton Carlin 1:27.237 26
11. Nigel Melker Ocean Racing Technology 1:27.238 17
12. Dani Clos Rapax 1:27.243 27
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
16. Rio Haryanto Carlin 1:27.580 28
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
22. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1:28.096 32
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