Senna on pole
Front row shut out by iSport pair Karun Chandhok showed his race winning pace from last year's second race in Spa to take the top spot on his last lap in qualifying yesterday afternoon, but a 10 place penalty from Valencia hands the pole position to iSport teammate Bruno Senna, who had led the field during the wet session until the Indian's amazing final lap.
Chandhok best time of 2:15.459 was just 0.061 ahead of Senna, with Alvaro Parente the best of the rest, albeit six tenths off the iSport pair. On that last lap Senna and Giorgio Pantano looked to be in locked in battle for pole, with Chandhok the only man on their pace: the sector times on the screens read Pantano 37.1 Senna 36.9 Chandhok 36.8, sector two Pantano 64.4 Senna 65.6 Chandhok 63.3, with the title rivals returning to the pits behind Parente rather than finishing the lap.
But Chandhok got the call to stay out and took the top spot with a third sector of 35.2 to the delight of his team. With heavy rain starting five minutes before the session it was clear that a dramatic session was around the corner, and so it proved: Senna set the pace immediately with Pastor Maldonado also pushing hard, while Lucas di Grassi slipped over the edge and into the wall on his second flying lap.
Maldonado soon joined him in retirement after sneaking into the top spot when he slipped off a kerb and flew backwards into the wall at turn seven, bringing out the red flags. Pantano and Senna were soon fighting once more for pole, with Parente also joining in to make it a three way battle.
In the second half of the session a number of drivers ran wide or spun making it was clear that, although the rain had stopped, the conditions were still far from ideal, but with Senna on top as the clock stopped it looked like the action was finished for the afternoon.
But Chandhok had other ideas, staying out when the others thought it was all over. Behind the top three Romain Grosjean popped into fourth on his last tour as well, just pipping Pantano who lines up fifth ahead of Andreas Zuber, Sébastien Buemi, Mike Conway, Andy Soucek and Pastor Maldonado.
Chandhok's penalty for his collision with Vitaly Petrov 2 weeks ago may have kept him off pole for today's race and handed the bonus points to his team mate, but he has proven a point in front the entire paddock at the circuit most of the drivers call their favourite.