Rossi lights up Abu Dhabi qualifying

Alexander Rossi, who leads the GP2 rookie standings, topped all comers on Friday evening under the lights. He's been carrying the backmarker Caterham team all year. Today he was a full second faster than his teammate. Too bad he wasn't driving for a top team.

Alexander Rossi has dominated this evening’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi with an educational display of driving under lights to claim pole position from Sam Bird and Jolyon Palmer, leading for most of the session to annex the front of tomorrow afternoon’s feature race grid.

With lights blazing all around the circuit, the darkness beyond had at least taken the sting out of the extreme heat from this morning’s practice session as Stefano Coletti set the early pace, but it didn’t take long before Palmer and then Rossi took over the running, with the American sawing away at his own times as his rivals tried in vain to keep up.

With six minutes remaining in the session most of the field were about to start their fast laps for another shot at the top spot, led on track once again by Rossi, as Daniel Abt slowed as first a wheel nut and then his left rear wheel detached from his car, prompting a red flag period much to the annoyance of his rivals.

From left, Palmer, Rossi and Bird

The marshals made quick work of removing the stricken vehicles, and the field was soon out again and trying to get their tires up to temperature: Marcus Ericsson looked to have done his job the best as he took the top of the timesheets, with Rossi pushing hard and finishing just 0.007 seconds behind the Swede and Palmer looking faster still until he missed his braking at the chicane and Bird slowing on his final run, but Ericsson’s time was soon cancelled for exceeding the track limits, promoting the others.

Title leader Fabio Leimer will line up in P4, immediately behind championship rival Bird on the grid but ahead of Johnny Cecotto, Jon Lancaster, Felipe Nasr, Stephane Richelmi and Dani Clos, with the closeness of the grid promising a scorching feature race.

Abu Dhabi – Qualifying Session

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Alexander Rossi (USA) EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:48.931 11
2. Sam Bird (UK) RUSSIAN TIME 1:49.241 10
3. Jolyon Palmer (UK) Carlin 1:49.376 10
4. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:49.485 11
5. Tom Dillmann RUSSIAN TIME 1:49.672 9
6. Johnny Cecotto Arden International 1:49.680 10
7. Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:49.827 10
8. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:49.829 11
9. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:49.835 10
10. Dani Clos MP Motorsport 1:49.846 10
11. Mitch Evans Arden International 1:49.864 10
12. Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1:49.910 10
13. Sergio Canamasas EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:49.951 10
14. James Calado ART Grand Prix 1:50.002 9
15. Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team 1:50.334 10
16. Nathanael Berthon Trident Racing 1:50.446 10
17. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Hilmer Motorsport 1:50.510 10
18. Stefano Coletti Rapax 1:50.534 10
19 Julian Leal Racing Engineering 1:50.553 11
20. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:50.634 13
21. Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team 1:50.809 10
22. Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:50.884 10
23. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:50.906 11
24. Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix 1:50.907 6
25. Vittorio Ghirelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:51.493 10

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