Jolyon Palmer claims dramatic pole position
Jolyon Palmer claimed a dramatic pole position for the opening round of the 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship at Silverstone today (Saturday), after the young Briton set the quickest time in the final seconds of the session.
Johan Jokinen looked to have claimed top spot on his F2 qualifying debut, but the Danish driver had to settle for second following Palmer's last gasp effort. Dean Stoneman led the session at the halfway stage, but ended up third at the finish.
"It feels fantastic," said Jolyon. "This year I feel a lot more confident, I've found more pace in the car and I'm really happy with that pole."
The 30 minutes of action began in frenetic fashion with Ivan Samarin, Benjamin Lariche, Jolyon Palmer and Johan Jokinen all spending time at the top during the opening ten minutes. As the majority of cars pitted for new rubber at the halfway stage, Dean Stoneman enjoyed the freedom of the circuit to set the quickest time of the session so far.
Jokinen hit the top with ten minutes remaining, followed by Stoneman, Palmer and series returnee Philipp Eng. Russian racer Sergey Afanasiev then briefly moved into second before a flurry of changes were made to the top order.
Eng went on to set the fastest first sector overall and his personal best in the second section of the track, before a small mistake late on prevented him from improving. He did however better his time shortly after, only to be pipped again by Palmer who was building up his pace in the final moments.
Palmer was one of the last drivers to cross the line as the checkered flag waved and his lap was good enough to secure a fantastic pole position - his first in Formula Two. Eng dropped to fourth behind Jokinen and Stoneman, whilst Afanasiev completed the top five.
"I think the winter testing really helped me," Palmer noted during the press conference. "From there I really haven't looked back. Confidence has grown since then, and now every time I go in the car I'm looking to be right up at the sharp end - it's completely different to how I started out last year.
"Tomorrow morning, going down to the first corner, will be crazy. I think tomorrow will certainly be hard, there's a lot of quick guys around me, but hopefully I can keep my head down in front and hold on for the win."
Will Bratt enjoyed a steady introduction to F2 qualifying and will be happy to take a top six grid slot at his home circuit, whilst Kazim Vasiliauskas improved late on to take seventh. Jack Clarke, Mihai Marinescu and Benjamin Lariche rounded out the top ten.
The session passed largely without incident although Ajith Kumar endured a brief spin and Tom Gladdis returned to the circuit after a trip through the gravel.
1. Jolyon Palmer, 1:36.380s
2. Johan Jokinen, +0.141s
3. Dean Stoneman, +0.327s
4. Philipp Eng, +0.676s
5. Sergey Afanasiev, +0.708s
6. Will Bratt, +1.010s
7. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +1.088s
8. Jack Clarke, +1.117s
9. Mihai Marinescu, +1.151s
10. Benjamin Lariche, +1.193s