Pastor Maldonado underlined the morning’s strong performance by Piquet Sports dominating yesterdday’s qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya, claiming today’s pole position ahead of Alvaro Parente and teammate Andreas Zuber.
The Colombian driver was fast throughout the thirty minute session, constantly improving on his own laptimes to finish with a best time of 1:27.547, 0.158 seconds ahead of Parente and a full six tenths ahead of his third placed teammate.
The session took place under clear blue skies, with the temperature only slightly down from this morning’s hot free practice session. Right from the start the Piquet pair were swapping fastest laps as they tried to outdo each other and claim the first pole position of the new season: Romain Grosjean, Luca Filippi and Giorgio Pantano were all in the mix, but comparatively they seemed to be working much harder to get there.
Nine minutes into the session Sébastien Buemi had a big accident: coming into turn eight at speed he was caught out by a slower car on the racing line and had to swerve onto the grass in avoidance, which threw his car across the track and backwards into the wall, the Swiss driver just a passenger as all his good work was lost in an instant, with the red flags brought out as he looked for a lift back to the pits. At the restart it was Maldonado who was immediately on the pace, claiming the top spot and then eating away at his own times: despite Zuber’s best intentions there was nothing he could offer in reply to his teammate.
Bruno Senna was soon out of the session when his car threw him off at the chicane, while Grosjean stopped as a result of mechanical gremlins not long after, with teammate Filippi following him a few minutes afterwards. Parente saved his best effort for the end, claiming the front row for his first ever GP2 start in the last minute of the session, while Senna will line up behind him on the grid in fourth place despite his problems, ahead of Pantano, Adrian Valles, Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov.
Once again the top nine drivers were split by just one second, with a further second covering the grid down to 21st position. With similarly good weather forecast for tomorrow afternoon’s first race of the season, the omens are shaping up for an action packed debut for the new GP2-08 car and their drivers.