Valsecchi seals pole in Bahrain
20 April 2012 – Davide Valsecchi, ex Caterham Formula 1 reserve driver, has sealed pole position at Sakhir for Saturday’s GP2 Feature Race in Bahrain. The Italian, driving for reigning Champions DAMS, will share the front row Sauber reserve Esteban Gutiérrez.
It was slightly cooler as the 26 GP2 cars fed onto the track. Johnny Cecotto Jr. set the early pace but, on his third lap and on Option Pirelli tyres, Valsecchi dipped under the 1m42s, setting the fastest first and second sectors. Gutiérrez, also on his third attempt, was also able to break the 1m42s barrier but ended a tenth shy of the Italian. Rookie Stéphane Richelmi found his way to P3 ahead of Max Chilton, but the pair were pushed back when Felipe Nasr moved up to third.
Ten minutes into the session and series leader Luiz Razia shot to P4, six tenths behind Valsecchi. The Italian then improved by one tenth for good measure. The proceedings were red flagged following a small collision between Brendon Hartley and Giedo van der Garde. The Caterham racer overtook the Ocean man at the last corner; during the manoeuvre the two cars touched slightly and Hartley’s front wing came off, leaving debris on the track. Along with the rest of the field, the Kiwi driver re-entered the pits to have his car fixed and was able resume his session.
At the restart, all eyes returned to the timesheets. Marcus Ericsson found some extra pace to move up to P5, but Fabio Leimer also improved and made his way to P4 ahead of Cecotto and Ericsson. No one however could match Valsecchi’s pace and with three minutes to spare, Gutiérrez, Nasr and Leimer re-entered the pits and chose to end their session early in order to save their tyres. Two minutes later, Ceccoto, Richelmi, Ericsson and Calado did the same.
At the chequered flag, Valsecchi enjoyed his new success while Gutiérrez and Nasr also celebrated their best qualifying ever. Leimer will start from P4 ahead of Cecotto and Richelmi, as Ericsson drops ten places following a grid penalty picked up in Malaysia. Next up will be James Calado, Razia, Chilton and Rio Haryanto.
Saturday’s Feature Race starts after F1 Qualifying, at 3:40pm local time (BST +2)