Stefano Coletti - Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service

Coletti enjoyed a strong start to his season in qualifying in Malaysia - Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service

Stefano Coletti says he is expecting 'a really close fight' in the first race of the GP2 season in Malaysia, for which he qualified fourth on the grid.

The Scuderia Coloni driver opted to use just one set of tyres in qualifying so as to save some for the race, but still managed to put a great lap together to end up just 0.083 seconds away from pole. With the top five covered by less than a tenth of a second, he's anticipating a closely-fought race.

“It was a really good session for me, I was feeling at ease with the car already from the Free Practice and so, together with the teams, we decided to use just one set of new rubber, saving one for the races,” he said.

“It proved to be the right choice because I was really quick, less than one tenth adrift from pole, and that extra set of tyres will prove very useful, I'm sure. For tomorrow the weather could change everything, but if it stays like today I expect a really close fight.”

Teammate Fabio Onidi set the ninth fastest time ahead of his championship debut, but could have done better had he not encountered traffic on new tyres later in the session. To compound things, he received a three-place grid penalty for obstructing Rodolfo Gonzalez.

“I really have mixed feelings,” said the Italian. “On one hand being three tenths off the pole on my first GP2 qualifying is not bad at all, but on the other hand that lap was on 'prime' tyres and I could have improved it a lot with the 'option' compound.

“Unfortunately my best lap was wasted by traffic and there was nothing I could do about that. The penalty is just another difficulty I'll have to overcome, but frankly now I just want to focus on the race. We are good, the performance is there, so I expect a good race but it will be physically tough, and rain could spoil everybody's plans.”