Rookie Tom Dillman looks impressive with a pole already
Rookie Tom Dillmann took a last gasp pole position for Carlin at Istanbul Park by just 0.029 seconds.
The first qualifying session of the season got underway in Istanbul in bright and sunny conditions, and after yesterday’s second practice session it was impossible to tell who would come out on top. All thirty cars hit the track as soon as the lights turned green, with Valtteri Bottas, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Alexander Sims swapping best times.
After setting the second quickest time in the first half of the session, yesterday’s quickest man Nigel Melker was one of the first to stop for new tires with just ten minutes left on the session. The Dutchman went top with a 1:45.541 lap time, with Bottas hot on his tail – the Finn was visibly pushing hard all session.
With most of the drivers now on new rubber, the session came alive. Status Grand Prix’s Alexander Sims moved up in to second with Dillmann in third, ahead of Bottas. With just minutes left on the clock RSC Mücke Motorsport’s Michael Christensen, Addax Team’s Dean Smith and MW Arden’s Williamson were both on hot laps. Christensen moved up into second, with Smith third, but it Williamson who put himself top, and the Brit’s teammate Mitch Evans followed suit, moving into third.
With the end of the session in sight Bottas was setting purple sectors and looked set to go top, but the Finn just couldn’t find enough time in the final sector. Sims briefly went to the top of the timesheet, but it was Frenchman Dillmann who put together the perfect 1:45.391 lap and will start this afternoon’s race from the front row. Lining up behind the Carlin driver is Sims, Williamson, Caldarelli, Melker and Bottas.
Tillman's Carlin teammate Conor Daly, who makes his European racing debut this weekend, is all the way at the other end of the grid in 29th. However, the young American believes there is plenty of potential to improve. Daly struggled to get the most from his tires in his first ever GP3 race weekend, but believes there is plenty of room for improvement. “It was a pretty frustrating session for me; obviously I am not happy to have qualified so far down. I think a struggled a little to bring in my new tires in the second half of the session. The good thing though is that Tom has given us some very good data and we will be able to look at that as a team and move forwards.”
The GP3 Series will be back on track this afternoon at 17:20 (local time) for Race 1.
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