Marcus Ericsson saw off a late challenge from his DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi to take his first career GP2 pole position in Barcelona as the French squad took both spots on the front row for the series’ third 2013 race weekend.
That Ericsson needed to rely on a late lap to take pole position is an unfair reflection on his performance through a session in which he held pole position for all but the opening minutes and the 12 seconds that separated the two yellow cars on track late in the session.
Having posted an early time of 1:29.095 to take provisional pole Ericsson was one of the last cars to come back out on track on fresh tyres in the second half of the session.
“I thought maybe I had done enough,” admitted the Swede. “But you never know, so we went back out and it was lucky because [Richelmi] was quick. In the end, on my second set of tyres, I managed to go quicker. That feels great. I mean P1 on both sets, it does not get better than that. I was hoping to be able to save that second set, but it was always the plan to do two runs. We did only one flying lap on that second set, so they’re still in good shape. In GP2, you can never be sure. It’s better to make sure you go back out and fight for the pole if you want to have it in the end, instead of just waiting in the pits to see how it goes with the others.”
While Ericsson’s early time stood up to challenges from both Felipe Nasr and Sam Bird on both sides of the mid-session lull it was left to Richelmi to provide the late drama, bouncing back from a mistake earlier in the session to snatch – briefly – provisional pole away from his teammate only to be pushed back to second a matter of seconds later when Ericsson moved himself onto 1:28.706.
Nasr, who moved from DAMS to Carlin over the winter for his second GP2 season held onto third on the grid, despite failing to improve on his second set of soft tyres. In fact the Brazilian nearly lost third place to Sam Bird, who did improve – though only fractionally. The pair, who were separated by only a fraction of a second at the end of the sprint race in Bahrain, will share the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s feature race.
Points leader Stefano Coletti and Fabio Leimer, already a double Feature Race winner this season, will start from the third row of the grid with James Calado and Robin Frijns on row four.