Robin Frijns sets the pace in opening GP2 practice
Hilmer Motorsport resumed their display of speed in this morning’s free practice at the Nurburgring: rookie and Barcelona race winner Robin Frijns topped the session with a lap time of 1:39.838, one tenth quicker than Sam Bird. Rookie Mitch Evans completed the top three.
The session opened under grey skies but on a dry track. The twenty-six cars fed to the track on Medium Pirelli tires as soon as the lights turned green. The times tumbled quickly until Series leader Stefano Coletti set the early pace in a 1:40.340, six tenths of a second quicker than closest rival James Calado. But Frijns was on a mission this morning and topped the timesheet after he found some extra pace to better the Monegasque’s lap time by nine hundredths. Tom Dillmann moved up to third, but his teammate Bird was the first man to break under the 1m40s barrier. The Brit set the first two sectors in purple and improved in the third sector to claim the top spot with a lap time of 1:39.962.
Just before the session hit the hallway mark, Frijns put his head down and edged Bird out of the top improving the Brit’s lap time by one tenth of a second. The Dutchman made his way back to the pits along with most of the field. Fabio Leimer moved up to P3 just before returning to the pits as well. Stéphane Richelmi was also on a flyer with a quickest first sector and an improved second sector, but the DAMS man rejoined the pits before completing his lap. With most of the drivers back into the pits, Evans enjoyed a clear track to improve his personal best and claim third spot.
The final minutes of the session did not see any changes at the top of the standings and was trouble-free except for a small scare from Calado who ran a bit too wide, but managed to rejoin the track safely. At the checkered flag, Frijns led the pack ahead of Bird, Evans, Leimer, Coletti, Calado, Jolyon Palmer, Dillmann, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Rene Binder.
Meanwhile, American Alexander Rossi's chances of having a good career in F1 continue to take a hit as he is straddled with the backmarker Caterham team. He and his teammate Sergio Canamasas were only 18th and 19th respectively. The talented Rossi is never going to get anywhere straddled with a team that never runs at the front.
The qualifying session will take place at 15.55 (local time). No doubt that teams and drivers will give the Super Soft tires a spin to try and claim the pole position.
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