Valencia: Pantano tops GP2 practice
Giorgio Pantano claimed the fastest lap in this morning's free practice session in Valencia on the last lap of the session at the new circuit, with Alvaro Parente and Karun Chandhok following his lead to round out the top three positions as the chequered flag dropped on the session.
Pantano's last lap stopped the clocks at 1:47.340, half a second quicker than his nearest rivals, with all three drivers pushing Andreas Zuber down to fourth after he had battled for the fastest lap for most of the session with teammate Pastor Maldonado until the Venezuelan hit the wall at turn 14 with five minutes to go, removing his rear wing and pulling up to a halt next to the bridge.
The session was briefly delayed for a moment's silence for the victims of the recent tragedy in Madrid, but the sound of 25 engines soon filled the air as Zuber led his rivals on track. Bruno Senna was the only man not to follow him after stalling at the pitlane exit, with his team having to push the Brazilian back to work on his car before finally releasing him 8 minutes into the session.
Zuber soon set the fastest lap, but the times were tumbling as Romain Grosjean, Maldonado and Luca Filippi swapped the top spot between them as they looked for the edge on the dusty circuit. Carlos Iaconelli went past that edge as he tripped over a curb and ran backwards into the wall, prompting the marshals to bring out the red flag 15 minutes into the session. The teams took full advantage of the downtime to work on their cars, with Maldonado first back on track when the session re-opened as he tried to top his teammate's time, but a few minutes later he pushed too hard and found the wall instead.
With the closing minutes blighted by a yellow flag area as a result of the accident there was little chance to improve the lap times until the last minute of the session: Pantano took full advantage and drove a measured lap to take the top spot, but with Zuber, Lucas di Grassi, Maldonado, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Grosjean and Filippi just outside of the top three positions this afternoon's qualifying session could yet throw up some surprises for tomorrow's race.
1. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 1m 47.340s
2. Alvaro Parente Super Nova 1m 47.867s
3. Karun Chandhok iSport 1m 47.898s
4. Andreas Zuber Piquet 1m 47.922s
5. Lucas di Grassi Campos 1m 47.933s
6. Pastor Maldonado Piquet 1m 47.944s
7. Jérôme d'Ambrosio DAMS 1m 47.948s
8. Romain Grosjean ART 1m 47.992s
9. Luca Filippi Arden 1m 48.362s
10. Davide Valsecchi Durango 1m 48.381s
11. Vitaly Petrov Campos 1m 48.477s
12. Roldan Rodriguez FMSI 1m 48.499s
13. Adrian Valles BCN 1m 48.684s
14. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 48.722s
15. Andy Soucek Super Nova 1m 48.753s
16. Sébastien Buemi Arden 1m 48.893s
17. Mike Conway Trident 1m 49.060s
18. Bruno Senna iSport 1m 49.232s
19. Sakon Yamamoto ART 1m 49.459s
20. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS 1m 49.504s
21. Alberto Valerio Durango 1m 49.988s
22. Michael Herck DPR 1m 50.190s
23. Ho-Pin Tung Trident 1m 50.297s
24. Diego Nunes DPR 1m 50.326s
25. Carlos Iaconelli BCN 1m 50.623s
26. Marko Asmer FMSI 1m 50.908s