DAMS driver Jolyon Palmer took his second career GP2 pole position under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit, and was happy to take the four points that went with it. He knew he had to have a smooth lap, and talking to the official GP2 website post-qualifying he admitted the first run was not ideal and that he knew he had to improve in the second to have any chance of pole.
“It was a matter of putting all together really,” said Palmer after the session. “On the first set of tyres, I flat-spotted the front really badly but I still managed to do a competitive enough lap. So, I knew that on the second set of tyres, we could be fighting for pole. So when I went out on track again, I was able to put everything together and it was good enough for pole.
“The practice this morning I think was really strange. We’ve come from three days testing here and everyone was really up to speed, but then during practice this morning, the track conditions were really bad. We were the first ones out on track with [team-mate Stephane] Richelmi. The lap times were three seconds off. I tried to focus on the qualifying runs instead and not focus on being eighth this morning. I knew it did not reflect our potential.”
Palmer also commented about Stoffel Vandoorne, who was his closest challenger for the pole, with the ART Grand Prix driver coming up just 0.030 seconds shy. He feels rookies have a better chance in Bahrain due to the series having run those three days of testing pre-season.
“It’s really close between us, it should be a really good fight tomorrow. He’s really done a good job for a rookie. I think there’s a good chance for a rookie especially here because everyone is up to speed after testing. It’s better than some other tracks. For me today, I managed to go a bit quicker, but I don’t know how.
“I hope my experience will make the difference. The tyre degradation here is pretty big. Everyone has done long runs last week so everyone has quite a good idea about what is going to happen on both compounds. I think I will have to make a good start and keep the lead. I made some good races last year and with my experience hopefully I can take it home.”