British driver Jolyon Palmer made a perfect start to the season by grabbing pole position for the Bahrain feature race, and thus claiming the first four points of the season. The DAMS driver’s lap of 1:38.865s under the lights in Sakhir was enough to take top spot, beating Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne into second place by 0.030s.
The ART Grand Prix driver is under investigation for an earlier lap in the session for exceeding track limits, but as he set a faster lap later on, the likelihood of punishment is minimal. Palmer and Vandoorne ended up being the only drivers to record laps under the 1:39s barrier.
German Daniel Abt had a good session, the Hilmer Motorsport staying top for good parts of it before slipping to third at the end, just ahead the second DAMS machine of Monegasque driver Stephane Richelmi. Fifth went to Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto for EQ8 Caterham Racing, who had set the fastest lap time when the series tested on this track a few weeks ago.
The second Monegasque driver in the field, Stefano Coletti of Racing Engineering, will start from sixth on the grid, just ahead of free practice pacesetter Mitch Evans in his Russian Time entry. Williams F1 reserve driver Felipe Nasr was eighth quickest in the fastest Carlin entry, just ahead of Italian rookie Raffaele Marciello in the second Racing Engineering car, while Arthur Pic put in a strong lap in his Campos Racing machine to end up tenth.
It was a difficult session for one of the championship favourites with Alexander Rossi finishing a lowly fifteenth. He will have his work cut out to get into the points tomorrow but anything can happen in GP2 and it usually does.
Once again the times in the session were close, with 18 drivers within one second of Palmer’s pole time. The session had to be red flagged about two thirds of the way through when Russian Time debutant Artem Markelov span and stalled coming out of the first corner. Markelov will start 26th and last. An incident between Nasr and Trident Racing’s Johnny Cecotto Jr is also under investigation by the stewards.
But ultimately it was Jolyon Palmer and DAMS’ day, and they will go into the feature race in pole position and as championship leaders.
Provisional Bahrain Qualifying Result
|2||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||ART Grand Prix||1:38.895|
|3||Daniel Abt||GER||Hilmer Motorsport||1:39.073|
|5||Rio Haryanto||INO||EQ8 Caterham Racing||1:39.228|
|6||Stefano Coletti||MON||Racing Engineering||1:39.271|
|7||Mitch Evans||NZL||RT Russian Time||1:39.274|
|9||Raffaele Marciello||ITA||Racing Engineering||1:39.449|
|10||Arthur Pic||FRA||Campos Racing||1:39.462|
|11||Jon Lancaster||GBR||MP Motorsport||1:39.507|
|13||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Trident Racing||1:39.615|
|14||Andre Negrao||BRZ||Arden International||1:39.647|
|15||Alexander Rossi||USA||EQ8 Caterham Racing||1:39.651|
|16||Kimiya Sato||JAP||Campos Racing||1:39.749|
|17||Rene Binder||AUT||Arden International||1:39.788|
|18||Conor Daly||USA||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:39.848|
|19||Facu Regalia||ARG||Hilmer Motorsport||1:39.881|
|20||Nathanael Berthon||FRA||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:39.928|
|22||Daniel de Jong||NED||MP Motorsport||1:40.060|
|23||Takuya Izawa||JAP||ART Grand Prix||1:40.401|
|25||Axcil Jefferies||ZIM||Trident Racing||1:40.619|
|26||Artem Markelov||RUS||RT Russian Time||1:41.172|