Giedo van der Garde flies to Sakhir pole
Caterham Racing driver steals Davide Valsecchi’s thunder
Giedo van der Garde is a happy man: the Caterham Racing driver claimed today’s pole position at the Bahrain International Circuit in 1:42.451, one tenth quicker than Davide Valsecchi. Fabio Leimer took P3 in an thrilling qualifying session.
Esteban Gutiérrez was the first driver to take to the track in the session in Sakhir. He set the early pace with a 1:43.213, but Series leader Valsecchi on Prime Pirelli tyres claimed P1 after a stellar lap that saw him set the quickest times in sectors 2 and 3. The Italian’s rival Luiz Razia also improved and moved up to P2, two tenths behind Valsecchi.
The first ten minutes saw Felipe Nasr pushing hard, locking up Turn 10 and nearly coming together with Tom Dillmann. Max Chilton attempted to challenge Valsecchi but made a mistake in the second sector on both tries. The DAMS racer went for another quick lap, but hit traffic in the final part of the track and chose to re-enter the pits to switch to Option tyres. Leimer moved up to P3 ahead of Rio Haryanto and Dani Clos.
Chilton eventually found a way around Sector 2 and edged Razia out of P2. His teammate Haryanto also found some extra pace to take P3. Mid-session came and van der Garde lying then on P20 found a clear lap. On Option tyres, the Dutchman pushed hard and even made a small mistake in the final sector, but that was enough to do the job and take pole in 1:42.451, one tenth quicker than Valsecchi. Leimer also improved and moved up to P3 again.
As the clock ticked down, traffic intensified and Valsecchi was unable to match the Dutchman’s pace. He re-entered the pits one minute before the end of the session, along with Leimer which left van der Garde to celebrate and enjoy his first pole position of the season. Behind the top 3, Carlin’s pair Chilton and Haryanto ended up P5 and P6 respectively, ahead of Razia, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Clos, Marcus Ericsson and Dillmann.
Carlos Sainz claims pole position at Hockenheim
Carlos Sainz (Carlin, 1:33.709 minutes) was fastest in Formula 3 Euro Series qualifying at the 4.574 kilometres long Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg and achieved a great comeback for his team Carlin in the world’s strongest junior racing category. Second fastest in qualifying, Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam, 1:33.995 minutes) was 0.286 seconds slower than his compatriot. Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke Motorsport, 1:34.045 minutes) ended up third, Michael Lewis (Prema Powerteam, 1:34.259 minutes) was fourth. In the ranking for the second-fastest laps, Sainz also came out on top and this will not only start the third, but also the first race of the weekend from pole position. All three races also count towards the newly-created FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
In the first qualifying of the year, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Juncadella had a thrilling battle for first place. With two minutes remaining, Juncadella was in the lead, but then was toppled by Sainz. On his final lap, the Carlin driver once again improved his own lap time. There was no way to hold the son of the two times’ world rally champion off his maiden Euro Series’ pole position.
With Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport, 1:34.371 minutes), the best-placed guest driver was fifth, followed by Sven Müller (Prema Powerteam, 1:34.446 minutes), the best rookie in the 18 drivers strong field. The lap times of the first ten drivers in qualifying were within less than a second.
Carlos Sainz (Carlin): “This wasn’t an easy qualifying, because there were many cars on the track and I hardly had a clear lap. With my first set of tyres, I tried to complete as many laps as possible, to get maximum insight. With the second set, it went particularly well towards the end.”
Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam): “I am happy, because I am on the front row of the grid. With the second set of tyres, the balance of my car wasn’t that good anymore, so I wasn’t able to do any better. Now, we have to analyse what the reason was.”