was once again untouchable during today's qualifying session at the Bahrain International Circuit: he put his DAMS
car at the top of the timesheets early on and his laptime of 1:41.200 was never bettered. With this result, Valsecchi pockets his second pole position of the 2012 season. Esteban Gutiérrez and Felipe Nasr
finished P2 and P3 respectively.
It was slightly cooler as the twenty-six GP2 cars fed onto the track. Johnny Cecotto
set the early pace, but on his third lap and on Option Pirelli
tyres, Valsecchi dipped under the 1m42s, setting the fastest first and second sectors. Gutiérrez on his third attempt as well was also able to break the 1m42s barrier but ended a tenth shy off the Italian. Rookie Stéphane Richelmi found his way to P3 ahead of Max Chilton
, but the pair were pushed back when Nasr moved up to third.
Ten minutes into the session and Series leader Luiz Razia
shot to P4, 0.6s behind Valsecchi. The Italian then improved by one tenth for good measure. The proceedings were red flagged following a small collision between Brendon Hartley
and Giedo van der Garde
. The Caterham racer overtook the Ocean man in the last corner. During the manoeuvre the two cars touched slightly and Hartleys front wing came off. Debris was left on the track thus calling for a quick red flag. Along with the rest of the field, the Kiwi driver re-entered the pits to have his car fixed and was able resume his session.
At the restart, all eyes returned to the timesheets. Marcus Ericsson
found some extra pace to move up to P5, but Fabio Leimer
also improved and made his way to P4 ahead of Cecotto and Ericsson. No one however could match Valsecchis pace and with three minutes to spare, Gutiérrez, Nasr and Leimer re-entered the pits and chose to end their session early in order to save their tyres. Two minutes later, Ceccoto, Richelmi, Ericsson and Calado did the same.
At the chequered flag, Valsecchi enjoyed his new success while Gutiérrez and Nasr also celebrated their best qualifying ever. Leimer will start from P4 ahead of Cecotto, Richelmi, (Marcus Ericsson will be dropped ten places following a grid penalty picked up in Malaysia Sprint Race), James Calado
, Razia, Chilton and Rio Haryanto