A great start for Racing Engineering at the 2011 GP2 Final, running this weekend with the F1 Abu Dhabi GP, with pole position for the Spanish team’s driver Fabio Leimer.
The first day of the 2011 GP2 Final kicked off with dry and sunny weather over the Yas Marina circuit for the morning free practice session where the Racing Engineering drivers, Fabio Leimer and Nathanaël Berthon where immediately among the fastest. Fabio especially was showing his speed from the very first minutes, getting among the top three at his first attempt and finishing the session with the second fastest lap, set with 15 minutes to go. In seventh position, and less than half a second shy of his teammate, was Berthon, with both drivers tackling the work program scheduled by Racing Engineering for this first contact with Abu Dhabi’s track.
At the end of the morning Qualifying took place where Leimer was again among the main contenders. The Swiss-born driver of Racing Engineering set the fourth fastest lap in his first attempt, but the best was yet to come. In his second outing, and with less than five minutes to the end of the session, Fabio improved his previous time by almost five tenths, setting the best overall time: a 1.49.363 that nobody could improve on in the remaining minutes so Racing Engineering took pole position for Saturday’s race.
For Nathanaël Berthon, the qualifying wasn’t as positive. The young Frenchman was close to the top ten after his first attempt but in the second he’d barely gained a few hundredths of second which, with a red flag shown with three minutes to go, meant that he’d have to try for an improvement in the last moments when there was a lot of traffic with all the drivers on track, so he ended up finally in 17th position.
The very close lap times for today’s qualifying, with Berthon less than a second away from the pole time set by his team mate, Leimer, means that there will be difficult to predict what will happen in tomorrow’s race, although, starting at the front, Fabio will be the main favourite to get the win. Berthon is starting from the eighth row after the penalties to the drivers who ignored yellow flags in free practice, and his target will be to recover as many places as possible in order to get a better starting position for Sundays race.
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “Another incredible performance from Fabio. His final attempt for pole was the right one and he was able to pull it off. When you need the best of him, he can deliver. What a talent, especially with such a strong line-up of drivers this weekend. As for Nathanaël, sadly traffic and some small mistakes did not allow him to show his full potential as in testing in Barcelona and this morning. Although, I am not too worried since I think tomorrow he will show his full potential and plough through the field. He has the talent to do it. Once again, I want to thank everyone in the team for a wonderful job. Now let’s get ready for tomorrow, where it really counts.”
Fabio Leimer: “Everything went really perfect. We already saw we were quick during free practice and that everything would be possible in qualifying. I also knew that I myself could still go quicker. In qualifying everything fell into place and I would like to pass a big thank you on to the team as they gave me a really, really good car. I am really happy as it was actually my last possible lap when I set the fastest time. After that we had the red flag and there were no possibilities to improve anymore. I am also really happy as this is my first pole position. Now we will see what’s possible for tomorrow’s race, but the most important thing is to start in front. I am really, really happy.”
Nathanaël Berthon: “Free practice was really good today. I was not pushing to the maximum and therefore it was not so bad. In qualifying I didn’t have any clear lap, but I guess it was the same for everyone. I have to push more in the next qualifying, if there is another race in the future. I am not satisfied with today’s qualifying result, but the lap was not terrible and I am not so far away. I am sure it will be better in the race.”