Venezuelan quickest in close qualifying session
Johnny Cecotto has given Trident their second ever GP2 pole position thanks to a laptime of 1:15.312 set in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring. The Venezuelan came out on top of a close session with Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr a hairsbreadth from him and the twenty-six cars separated by only 1.3s.
The track conditions were blustery as the pitlane opened, but the laptimes tumbled down rapidly as the drivers feared the grey skies would open and ruin their chances to set a time. Stoffel Vandoorne topped the timesheet early into the session, but Cecotto was firmly set on taking today’s pole position and he lapped the track under 1m16s.
Series leader Jolyon Palmer went quickest, but it would not be enough: Cecotto found some extra pace and improved on the Briton’s laptime by one tenth. With twenty minutes left of the clock, it was everybody’s mission to go faster than 1:15.312. Palmer tried his mightiest but failed for a shy 0.04s.
After the drivers returned to the pits for a fresh set of Soft Pirelli tyres, the action lit up again for a final shoot out. Rookie Raffaele Marciello was able to move up to third, but his teammate Stefano Coletti did better. In the dying minutes, Nasr who pushed hard all session long was eventually able to find a clear lap. Nevertheless, his final attempt saw him finish third – 0.006s slower than Palmer.
Behind the top three, the Racing Engineering pair ended fourth and fifth, Coletti ahead of Marciello. Vandoorne, Arthur Pic, Mitch Evans, Alexander Rossi and Stéphane Richelmi rounded up the top ten.