Jolyon Palmer quickest in Free Practice

The 2012 season could not have started better for iSport’s Jolyon Palmer: the young Brit set the fastest laptime of the free practice session this morning at Sepang International Circuit with a 1:46.514. His closest rival Davide Valsecchi finished 0.1s behind.

The first free practice session of the eighth GP2 Series season opened in hot temperatures as the twenty-six drivers took to the track. Johnny Cecotto Jr was the first one out of the pitlane at the wheel of his Barwa Addax machine, but it was Valsecchi at DAMS who set the early pace in 1:48.049 – 0.2s quicker than Esteban Gutierrez.

Palmer was the first man to dip under 1m48s, but his laptime was soon bettered by Fabio Leimer until James Calado went top. Ten minutes into the session, Luiz Razia went quickest – 0.1s ahead of the Brit. As the Arden man set his best laptime, Sector 13 was yellow flagged after Esteban Gutiérrez stopped at Turn 12 following an incident with Cecotto. As the Venezuelan tried to pass the Mexican, the two cars collided which ended Gutiérrez’ session prematurely. The incident is under investigation.

Just before mid-session, Valsecchi found some extra pace and topped the timesheets ahead of Razia and Calado. But with ten minutes left on the clock, Palmer put his head down and broke the 1m47s barrier, setting the best laptime of the session, a clear 0.4s ahead of Valsecchi. The DAMS driver gave it another try and although he too dipped under 1m47s he was not fast enough to edge the Brit out of P1. At the checkered flag, Max Chilton made his way up to P3 ahead of Giedo van der Garde, Fabio Onidi, Felipe Nasr, Razia, Calado, Stefano Coletti and Josef Kral.

With drivers allowed to use a free downforce setup and having a choice between Prime and Option tires, the qualifying session promises to be a classic GP2 event!

Sepang – Free Practice

Pos Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Jolyon Palmer iSport International 1:46.514 10
2. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1:46.678 12
3. Max Chilton Carlin 1:47.152 8
4. Giedo van der Garde Caterham Racing 1:47.229 11
5. Fabio Onidi Scuderia Coloni 1:47.318 11
6. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1:47.360 12
7. Luiz Razia Arden International 1:47.418 5
8. James Calado Lotus GP 1:47.532 14
9. Stefano Coletti Scuderia Coloni 1:47.533 10
10. Josef Kral Barwa Addax Team 1:47.580 12
11. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:47.616 10
12. Johnny Cecotto Barwa Addax Team 1:47.637 12
13. Esteban Gutiérrez Lotus GP 1:47.639 4
14. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:47.644 11
15. Jon Lancaster Ocean Racing Technology 1:47.681 6
16. Fabrizio Crestani Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:47.699 9
17. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:47.862 12
18. Simon Trummer Arden International 1:48.246 12
19 Rio Haryanto Carlin 1:48.259 10
20. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:48.326 12
21. Nigel Melker Ocean Racing Technology 1:48.437 14
22. Tom Dillmann Rapax 1:48.447 12
23. Julian Leal Trident Racing 1:48.746 13
24. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham Racing 1:48.764 11
25. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 1:50.549 14
26. Giancarlo Serenelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:52.306 12

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