Fabio Leimer takes GP2 pole in Bahrain
Racing Engineering driver nearly a second clear of the rest
By William Esler. Last Updated: September 17, 2013 1:20pm
Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer dominated qualifying in Bahrain to take pole position for Saturday's GP2 Feature Race.
Having been over a second clear of the pack in the morning practice session, the Swiss driver carried that pace into the afternoon, setting two laps that would have been quick enough for pole. His fastest time was 1:39.427 and he finished the session 0.993 seconds clear of Marcus Ericsson.
Unlike their F1 counterparts who nursed their tyres in practice before their qualifying simulations in the preceding practice session, the GP2 drivers used two laps of weaving to generate heat in their soft compound Pirellis before attempting their timed laps.
That weaving almost led to another qualifying misdemeanour for Johnny Cecotto (he forced Sam Bird off the track in Malaysia), who nearly ran into Kevin Ceccon on the backstraight as the pack tried to generate heat in their tyres. The Arden driver took to the run-off area and whilst no damage was done, it was another sign of poor race craft from the Venezuelan.
As the drivers completed their first timed runs, it was Leimer who led the charge with a 1:40.044 and it became clear that the Racing Engineering driver was going to be hard to beat in the session.
Alexander Rossi, who has replaced Ma Qing Hua in the Caterham for the remainder of the season, was much more impressive than his predecessor, running third after the opening timed laps, although the American would eventually finish the session seventh quickest.
In the now traditional mid-session lull as the drivers pitted for fresh tyres, Championship leader Stefano Coletti took advantage of the clear track and he will start Saturday's race from fourth position.
With six minutes to go, Mitch Evans stopped on track with what appeared to be a hydraulic issue, robbing the rookie of the chance to improve his time and he will have to fight his way through from 18th tomorrow.
In the final two minutes, Leimer effectively told the pack to stop trying as he improved again, shaving six tenths off his previous time and underlining his advantage.
The session was not to finish without a moment of madness, however, as Sergio Canamasas decided to run Ceccon off the track on the run to turn nine. The Spaniard seemed to have felt he was held up by Trident driver on the exit of turn eight and the incident was reminiscent of the Cecotto v Bird incident in Malaysia.
Worse to follow, though, after the chequered flag Canamasas waited for the Italian at the same turn and once again tried to force Ceccon off the track.
As a result, the stewards have excluded Sergio Canamasas from the qualifying results and he will start from the back of the Feature Race grid.
GP2 Bahrain Qualifying
1) Fabio Leimer (SWI) - Racing Engineering - 1:39.427
2) Marcus Ericsson (SWE) - DAMS - +0.993
3) Felipe Nasr (BRA) - Carlin - +1.093
4) Stefano Coletti (MON) - Rapax - +1.158
5) Tom Dillmann (FRA) - RUSSIAN TIME - +1.262
6) Stephane Richelmi (MON) - DAMS - +1.277
7) Alexander Rossi (USA) - Caterham - +1.329
8) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) - MP Motorsport - +1.342
9) Sam Bird (GBR) - RUSSIAN TIME - +1.415
10) Robin Frijns (NLD) - Hilmer Motorsport - +1.438
11) James Calado (GBR) - ART - +1.451 *takes 10-place grid penalty
13) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - Carlin - +1.606