The 2012 season could not have started better for iSports 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 Gutiérrez.
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 chequered 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.