Stephane Richelmi is a happy man: following his first 2013 GP2 podium finish in Silverstone, the Monegasque driver grabbed a maiden pole position at the Nurburgring today out-qualifying teammate Marcus Ericsson by two tenths of a second. Rookie Robin Frijns completed the top three.
The qualifying session opened in similar conditions as this morning’s free practice’s. All twenty-six drivers opted for Super Soft Pirelli tires. Eager to get back to the top, Series leader Stefano Coletti set the early pace in a 1:39.274 although he hit traffic in his final sector. Richelmi was quick to improve on his countryman’s lap time until Ericsson clocked in a time of 1:38.763, a shy six hundredths quicker than Frijns in P2 and with Felipe Nasr third.
Halfway through the session, most of the drivers made their way back into the pits for a fresh set of super soft rubbers. The session heated up again with ten minutes left on the clock and Mitch Evans found the extra pace to slip into third thanks to a purple second sector whilst Fabio Leimer moved up to fifth with a third purple sector. In the final stages of the session, Richelmi put his head down and set a record lap time of 1:38.487. In spite of their best efforts, none of his rivals could match his pace, not even Frijns who did however light the last sector in purple on his final attempt, but it was not enough to edge out the DAMS pair from the top.
At the checkered flag, it was smiles all around at DAMS’ pitwall with both of their cars locking out tomorrow’s front row, Richelmi ahead of Ericsson. Frijns settled for third ahead of Evans, Nasr, Leimer, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (who makes it three rookies in the top seven), James Calado, Sam Bird and Tom Dillmann. This was one close qualifying session with seventeen drivers running within the same second.
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