Pastor Maldonado has continued where he left off at Paul Ricard in the previous collective GP2 test as he topped the times for the fourth consecutive test day.
Maldonado set the day's best time with a 1m27.457s during the afternoon session, while the GP2 rookies showed that the 2010 Championship will be ultra competitive.
The morning session was a slow starter, with young British driver Max Chilton and Racing Engineering's German rookie Christian Vietoris topping the times during the first two hours of the three hour session.
Once the final hour started, the times started to tumble and the best time by the young German was bettered by Dutchman Giedo van der Garde of Addax. Van der Garde's best effort would see him secure top spot for the morning session.
Behind the Addax racer, Sam Bird posted the second fastest time of the morning, thus knocking early pace setter Vietoris down to third. Bird's ART Grand Prix team mate Jules Bianchi soon moved into fourth, before Ho-Pin Tung caused a red flag, having made contact with the barriers at turn five.
Once the three hour session was restarted, the top three stayed as they were, while the flying Venezuelan Maldonado was setting the fourth fastest time of the session.
Behind the top five, Belgium racer Jerome d'Ambrosio moved into sixth ahead of the Racing Steps Foundation backed iSport International car of Oliver Turvey, the Arden International car of Charles Pic, South African Adrian Zaugg at Trident and Czech rookie Josef Kral rounded out the top ten times. The top thirteen cars were within a second of the session's fastest time.
Morning session times:
|1||Giedo Van Der Garde||NED||Barwa Addax Team||1:28.145s|
|2||Sam Bird||GBR||ART Grand Prix||1:28.283s|
|3||Christian Vietoris||GER||Racing Engineering||1:28.323s|
|5||Jules Bianchi||FRA||ART Grand Prix||1:28.814s|
|7||Oliver Turvey||GBR||iSport International||1:28.874s|
|8||Charles Pic||FRA||Arden International||1:28.962s|
|9||Adrian Zaugg||RSA||Trident Racing||1:29.018s|
|10||Josef Kral||CZE||Super Nova Racing||1:29.020s|
|12||Dani Clos||ESP||Racing Engineering||1:29.093s|
|14||Fabio Leimer||SUI||Ocean Racing Technology||1:29.258s|
|16||Sergio Perez||MEX||Barwa Addax Team||1:29.318s|
|17||Johnny Cecotto||VEN||Trident Racing||1:29.376s|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Super Nova Racing||1:29.439s|
|19||Max Chilton||GBR||Ocean Racing Technology||1:29.627s|
|20||Vladimir Arabadzhiev||BUL||Scuderia Coloni||1:29.727s|
|21||Davide Valsecchi||ITA||iSport International||1:29.755s|
|22||Alberto Valerio||BRA||Scuderia Coloni||1:29.868s|
|24||Rodolfo Gonzalez||VEN||Arden International||1:30.625s|
The afternoon session saw the first part of the session dominated by ART Grand Prix Bianchi and Bird, who were top of the times with a one, two – until DAMS d'Ambrosio joined the party and went straight to the top of the timing sheets. After this, it was the turn of Maldonado to set the session's fastest time.
Light rain then hit the circuit and this gave Bird the chance to go top of the times, ahead of team mate Bianchi and Racing Engineering's Dani Clos. GP2 Asia Champion Davide Valsecchi set the fourth fastest time in the session after the rain had passed over, while Swedish youngster Marcus Ericsson climbed into second position.
With fifteen minutes of the three hour afternoon session remaining, Maldonado set the day's fastest time and secured himself top spot at the end of day one of three at Barcelona. Behind the flying Venezuelan was Bird and Vietoris. Pic snuck in the fourth fastest with Ericsson in tow. Bianchi ended the afternoon as the fifth fastest rookie in sixth overall, ahead of Romanian Michael Herck, Valsecchi, Luiz Razia and Kral. Proving how tight and competitive the 2010 GP2 season will be, the top fourteen cars were within a second of Maldonado's fastest time.
Afternoon test Times:
|2||Sam Bird||GBR||ART Grand Prix||1:27.453s|
|3||Christian Vietoris||GER||Racing Engineering||1:27.531s|
|4||Charles Pic||FRA||Arden International||1:27.661s|
|5||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Super Nova Racing||1:27.705s|
|6||Jules Bianchi||FRA||ART Grand Prix||1:27.851s|
|8||Davide Valsecchi||ITA||iSport International||1:27.969s|
|10||Josef Kral||CZE||Super Nova Racing||1:28.058s|
|11||Dani Clos||ESP||Racing Engineering||1:28.107s|
|12||Giedo Van Der Garde||NED||Barwa Addax Team||1:28.278s|
|13||Sergio Perez||MEX||Barwa Addax Team||1:28.296s|
|14||Oliver Turvey||GBR||iSport International||1:28.431s|
|15||Alberto Valerio||BRA||Scuderia Coloni||1:28.471s|
|17||Fabio Leimer||SUI||Ocean Racing Technology||1:28.715s|
|18||Max Chilton||GBR||Ocean Racing Technology||1:28.803s|
|19||Adrian Zaugg||RSA||Trident Racing||1:28.818s|
|20||Vladimir Arabadzhiev||BUL||Scuderia Coloni||1:29.123s|
|22||Rodolfo Gonzalez||VEN||Arden International||1:29.508s|
|23||Johnny Cecotto||VEN||Trident Racing||1:29.933s|
Photo credit: Malcolm Griffiths/GP2 Media Service