Stefano Coletti put the record straight in today’s qualifying in Malaysia: the Monegasque driver snatched his first GP2 pole position with a blazing lap time of 1:44.280 in an extremely close session which saw him end up on top over James Calado and Felipe Nasr by four hundredths and eight hundredths respectively.
The session opened in scorching temperatures. All twenty-six drivers opted for soft tires. Coletti was the first man to feed onto the track, but it was Sam Bird who set the early pace, closely followed by Marcus Ericsson. Nasr improved on the Brit’s lap time and went top although he hit traffic in sector 3.
Ten minutes into the session, both ART cars took to the track whilst Fabio Leimer edged Nasr out lapping the track one tenth quicker. Calado was finally on a flying lap and looked set to go top, but a small mistake in the third sector had him settle for P2. Halfway through the session, the drivers made their way back into the pits for a fresh set of option tires. Coletti went back on track and found some extra pace to secure top spot. Having gotten the best out of his set of tires, he made his way back to the pits, got out of his car and waited to see if he had done enough to retain pole.
At the checkered flag, and in spite of Calado and Nasr’s best efforts to reduce the gap to Coletti by a hair’s breadth, the Monegasque driver could enjoy his maiden pole position and pocket four points on the board early on. Behind the trio, Leimer secured fourth ahead of Bird who had an incident with Johnny Cecotto during the session (under investigation). Rookie Mitch Evans finished in sixth place ahead of Rio Haryanto, Rene Binder, Simon Trummer and Tom Dillmann.
With fourteen drivers running again within one second, a close battle with the top three, unpredictable weather, and new tire strategies, the first race of the 2013 GP2 Series season will definitely be a race to watch!
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