DAMS - Kamui Kobayashi (2nd) Jérôme d'Ambrosio (7th)
Practice and qualifying for the 2008-09 Asian GP2 Series Championship took place today on the Shanghai circuit hosting the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix. Kamui who set the quickest time in free practice this morning was favourite for pole. He topped the time sheets for most of qualifying only to be pipped by a few tenths of a second in the dying seconds of a session marked by a couple of red flags. He will start from the front row tomorrow but in second place.
D'Ambrosio ended the session in 7th place. The Belgian was not very happy with his car's balance on a track that did not provide a lot of grip. However, the gaps between the cars at the top of the time sheet are tiny.
Eric Boullier: "It was a rather difficult qualifying session as it was interrupted twice after a few offs, and that upset the programmes of the drivers who were on the track at the time. Despite this our qualifying performances were good and our aim is to have both drivers on the rost rum tomorrow."
Kamui Kobayashi: "For sure missing pole by two tenths of a second is frustrating, all the more so as I made a small mistake on what should have been my quickest lap. But starting from the front row for tomorrow's race is a good performance and we can aim for victory. Overall, it's an encouraging result for the start of the championship. By not making any mistakes tomorrow and with the right strategy victory is within our grasp."
Jérôme d'Ambrosio: "I'd like to have been higher up the classification at the end of qualifying. For several reasons I was not very satisfied with the overall balance of my car today, and I think I gave it my best shot. Starting from the fourth row means I can score points. The Shanghai circuit is a tricky and difficult one, and that'll certainly help me to make up places in the race. My aim will be to fight my way through the field tomo rrow and finish as high up as possible."
GFH Team iSport - Giedo van der Garde (5th) Hamad Al Farman (14th)
The opening day of the second GP2 Asia Series proved eventful for GFH Team iSport, whose drivers' pace was tempered by a little ill fortune. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, the 2008 World Series by Renault champion, overcame a minor eye injury to qualify fifth, while team-mate Hamad Al Fardan missed the final moments of the decisive session after spinning as he prepared for his second and final qualifying run. Having initially been in the top 10, he slipped to 14th.
Giedo van der Garde: "I was happy enough with my performance. We are in touch with the leading group and I think we'll be in good shape tomorrow."
Hamad Al Farman: "I was pleased with my first run, because I'm racing against drivers with a lot more experience and a top 10 start would have been very satisfactory. Unfortunately, I was caught out on cold tyres as I began my second run. It was only a small mistake, but I paid a heavy price. I hope to make amends in the race tomorrow."
Durango - Davide Valsecchi (8th) Carlos Iaconelli (22nd)
Davide Valsecchi will take the start of the new GP2 Asia Series 2008-2009 from the eighth position of the grid, Carlos Iaconelli from the twentyfirst. These are the result of the Durango drivers at the end of today qualifying here at Shanghai. Ivone Pinton commented the day as follows: "Davide has been immediately fast taking the fourth place till five minutes to the end. But during the last, crucial, stages a fuel pump failure kept him in the pits. Despite this, his fast lap has been good enough to set him in the fourth row. It's a pity not being more in front but Davide showed his speed and tomorrow we will have a good race for sure. Carlos, on the contrary, had to pay the dues for debuting in a new team on a track where he never drove before. Considering all this I think he deserves a compliment".
MY Qi-Meritus Mahara - Earl Bamber (9th) Alex Yoong (23rd)
This weekend in Shanghai the first race of the GP2 Asia coincides with the penultimate F1 race. Malaysian Alex Yoong and New Zealand rookie Earl Bamber went on the attack for Malaysian-based MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara.
Following an important tradition in China, Chinese dancing lions which are believed to bring luck and happiness, accompanied the My Qi-Meritus.Mahara cars to the pit lane for the start of the free practice session early in the day. This session marked the opening of the second season of the GP2 Asia Series for the two drivers and took place immediately following the first F1 practice session in which Lewis Hamilton had set the fastest time of 1.35.630.
After respectively 12 and 11 laps, in an uneventful session, Yoong and Bamber finished with best times of 1.47.275 and 1.47.290 for 23rd and 24th positions. A red flag interrupted the session when Durango's David Valsecchi stopped on the track.
The qualifying session was also interrupted twice by red flags, at the start and then six minutes from the end of the session, but Bamber set a good pace to set the ninth fastest time in 1.46.060. Meanwhile, Yoong completed fewer laps and recorded a best time of 1.47.652 for 23rd position. The team completed a lot of work during the session after he experienced a gearbox oil leak following the first of the two red flags.