Sepang Feature Race winner Fabio Leimer proved himself a class apart in qualifying for the GP2 Series’ second event of the year, shadowing the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Racing Engineering’s Swiss driver ended the session with a best time nearly a second faster than any of his rivals, after he improved late in the session to record a best time of 1:39.427 around the 5.4km Bahrain International Circuit. While Leimer’s final fastest lap clearly showed the dominance of his Friday performance it was – in hindsight – unnecessary.
Leimer already held provisional pole half way through the half hour session when much of the field returned to the pits as they split the session into two runs, both on the softer Pirelli tyres at their disposal. At half way Leimer was already fastest by nearly four tenths, heading Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. However, while all three returned to the track in the second half only Leimer improved his time, pulling out the astonishing gap between the front row men.
Despite being two of the relatively few drivers not to improve their times in the second half of the session Ericsson and Nasr held onto second and third respectively, Ericsson’s 1:40.420 heading eleven drivers who ended the session with best times spread across only half a second.
Post-Malaysia points leader Stefano Coletti’s Rapax entry will share the second row with Carlin Man Nasr with Tom Dillmann and Stephane Richelmi on the third row.
Robin Frijns, making his GP2 debut this weekend, will start an impressive tenth after a session in which he outpaced James Calado. The ART Grand Prix driver was another not to find extra pace in the second half of the session, but unlike Ericsson and Nasr he was shuffled back down the order to finish eleventh. He will start from a lowly 21st, with a post-race penalty from Malaysia to be applied to his qualifying result.
The Feature Race is scheduled to begin at 3:45pm local time (1:45pm UK) tomorrow (Saturday April 20).