Arthur Pic backed up his practice speed with pole positiion (Photo Credit: Francois Flamand/DPPI)

Arthur Pic backed up his practice speed with pole positiion (Photo Credit: Francois Flamand/DPPI)

Arthur Pic took pole position for the opening race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season on DAMS’ debut in the series.

With top 19 drivers covered by just one second, the Frenchman was the pick of the bunch and to his first pole position in the series with a lap of 1m 40.027s.

Pic, fastest in both of Yesterday’s practice sessions, fended off a strong challenge from Lotus’ Richie Stanaway and later Comtec’s Nick Yelloly to open his 2012 campaign in impressive fashion.

The former Tech 1 driver said: “We got through a crazy amount of work this winter. I think our team covered the most laps, so this pole is a great reward for everybody.

“It's my first in Formula Renault 3.5 and the first for my team. I started from pole in Formula Renault 2.0 two years ago so I know what to do at the green light.”

The Frenchman briefly led the way in the early stages of qualifying before Stanaway topped the timesheets 11 minutes in.

Although he improved his time in the latter stages, he was usurped by the peerless Pic and the impressive Yelloly, who secured his first front row start in the category 0.134 adrift of pole position.

He said: “I wasn't all that happy with my first run. We made a few changes and the car was perfect. We were never among the front-runners in the collective tests but we knew that we had the speed. Now, let's see what happens in the race.”

Kevin Korjus bumped Stanaway down a further place to fourth, while Force India reserve driver Jules Bianchi completed the top five.

There were many casualties in the field with the cars so closely matched; Sam Bird dropped to ninth in the final minutes and star of pre-season testing Robin Frijns suffered with an engine map issue could only manage 12th, just ahead of last season’s rookie of the year Alexander Rossi.

Mikhail Aleshin, the 2010 champion, will start 21st for RFR.


Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Arthur Pic          DAMS        1m40.027s
 2.  Nick Yelloly        Comtec      1m40.161s  + 0.134s
 3.  Kevin Korjus        Tech 1      1m40.170s  + 0.143s
 4.  Richie Stanaway     Lotus       1m40.250s  + 0.223s
 5.  Jules Bianchi       Tech 1      1m40.266s  + 0.239s
 6.  Jake Rosenzweig     ISR         1m40.321s  + 0.294s
 7.  Carlos Huertas      Fortec      1m40.385s  + 0.358s
 8.  Nico Muller         Draco       1m40.419s  + 0.392s
 9.  Sam Bird            ISR         1m40.483s  + 0.456s
10.  Daniil Move         P1          1m40.597s  + 0.570s
11.  Walter Grubmuller   P1          1m40.682s  + 0.655s
12.  Robin Frijns        Fortec      1m40.726s  + 0.699s
13.  Alexander Rossi     Arden       1m40.741s  + 0.714s
14.  Nikolay Martsenko   BVM Target  1m40.764s  + 0.737s
15.  Vittorio Ghirelli   Comtec      1m40.776s  + 0.749s
16.  Marco Sorensen      Lotus       1m40.785s  + 0.758s
17.  Will Stevens        Carlin      1m40.796s  + 0.769s
18.  Zoel Amberg         Pons        1m40.983s  + 0.956s
19.  Kevin Magnussen     Carlin      1m40.986s  + 0.959s
20.  Andre Negrao        Draco       1m41.123s  + 1.096s
21.  Mikhail Aleshin     RFR         1m41.153s  + 1.126s
22.  Lewis Williamson    Arden       1m41.169s  + 1.142s
23.  Giovanni Venturini  BVM Target  1m41.351s  + 1.324s
24.  Lucas Foresti       DAMS        1m41.407s  + 1.380s
25.  Anton Nebylitskiy   RFR         1m41.576s  + 1.549s
26.  Yann Cunha          Pons        1m42.209s  + 2.182s