The weather was very hot for the 45 minute free practice session with air and track temperatures of 29° and 48° respectively. For this weekend Pirelli are supplying the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compound as the track is not too demanding on tyres and for this session the cars were using the medium option.
All 26 cars took to the track as the session began with the two Racing Engineering drivers, Stefano Coletti and Raffaele Marciello, completing a single installation lap and then going back to the pits. Returning to the track after 10 minutes Stefano was immediately flying going to the top of the timing screen with a lap of1:25.126s and Lello was right behind him in 6th with a 1:25.376s lap. Stefano immediately improved his time to 1:24.771s and again Lello was keeping pace with his teammate going 4th on 1:25.293s.
After 20 minutes most of the cars, including Stefano and Lello, returned to the pits for some adjustments to their set-ups. With 13 minutes of the session remaining Lello moved up to 3rd with a time of 1:25.154s while Stefano decided to sit out the last 10 minutes of the session relying on his earlier time which was still good enough to be fastest and Lello remained in 3rd with the top 18 drivers separated by less than one second.
It was even hotter for the 30 minute qualifying session with air and track now up to 33° and 58° respectively. All the cars were now fitted with the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tyres as all the drivers strove to set a fast time for tomorrow’s grid.
Stefano took his first few laps carefully but on his fifth lap he really pushed moving up to 2nd with a 1:23.722s lap while Lello’s first quick lap was ruined in the final sector by Haryanto not moving out of the way. After 12 minutes of the session most of the cars returned to the pits for some final adjustments and a new set of soft tyres.
With 9 minutes of the session remaining the cars returned to the track for one final effort. Lello put in a fast time on his first flying lap moving up to 5th with a time of 1:23.918s. On his next flying lap the young Italian set personal best times in the first two sectors but as he was finishing the lap Izawa, who was running slowly, moved across on the Racing Engineering car forcing Lello to abort the lap and leave him in a very disappointed 8th position. Stefano was, once again, right on the pace and he improved his time to 1:23.722s to take 3rd.
Following qualifying both Haryanto and Izawa were given three place grid penalties for tomorrow’s race for impeding Lello. The 38 lap Feature Race will see Stefano starting from the second row of the grid and Lello from the 4th, both men have shown a great deal of pace today and they will be looking to finish on the podium.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:"After very strong results in free practice qualifying was not as good as expected. Stefano was able to set the 3rd fastest lap time and Lello fought for a top 3 position as well, but was clearly hampered by other drivers, who were on their slow laps, on several occasions. The stewards have done a good job at pointing this out, but this doesn’t give back the results Lello was going for. Once again our drivers and cars were fighting for top spots. We will work hard now at getting ready for tomorrow's race, which will take place under hotter than normal conditions for Germany."
Raffaele Marciello:"I am very unhappy because I could have finished in a top 3 position, but traffic kept me from doing so. This is no excuse, but it was avoidable by other drivers. The car was good and we have been at the front from Barcelona on. I hope for a good start tomorrow and think we are fine on tyre degradation, so things should fall into place.”
Stefano Coletti:"On my first run I managed a lap on my second push lap and I was in P2 and I knew I could still improve a bit. On the second stint I couldn’t feel the grip on the new tyres and went off twice. I didn’t do a lap, so I dropped back to P3. I am happy anyway with the performance and we will have to work hard to take the first win tomorrow.”