Russian Time Sets Early Pace As Cecotto Sneaks Pole

Sam Bird and the Russian Time squad set the early bench mark in Monte Carlo as practice got into full swing but it was Arden International‘s Johnny Cecotto Jr. who got Thursday’s spoils as he claimed pole position for Friday’s race.

Using super soft tyres Bird had a slim 0.057 second advantage over team mate Tom Dillmann setting a 1m21.512s lap as the Russian squad dominated the 26 car grid.

The principality saw the teams generally behave themselves with only one incident of note – Monegasque driver Stéphane Richelmi span at Rascasse and stalled when trying to recover, the DAMS racer would end the session 19th.

The head of the “best of the rest” pack went to Arden’s Mitch Evans who only finished two tenths down on the pace setting time. Carlin’s Jolyon Palmer finished fourth.

Kiwi Evans would see himself edged out again in the afternoons divided qualifying session – finishing second by 0.016 to Venezuelan Cecotto.

The qualifying session had to be split into two sections because of the confines of the Monte Carlo circuit. The odd numbered group A, featuring Cecotto, started their fifteen minute qualifying session first with the even numbered group B cars out afterward. The aim being to cut down on the number of crashes seen in recent years when 26 cars took to the grid at the same time.

With the two time sheets combined – the end result saw early pace setter Bird start third with Fabio Leimer  in the Racing Engineering car start fourth.

Points leader Stefano Coletti will start 14th after a mediocre session with fellow high flyers Felipe Nasr and Robin Frijns will start ninth and tenth respectively.

However, with the number of cars and the tight twisty Monaco circuit it could be that those further up the grid will have a better chance of getting a podium finish.

The first GP2 race will start at 10:15 Friday live on Sky Sports F1HD. A full report will be published on The Checkered Flag as soon as the winner crosses the line.