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.
Alex Yoong: "I arrived at Shanghai very motivated after I familiarised myself with the car during the previous week's test session. It's a pity that we did not have more track time before our first practice session, but what really counts is qualifying. After the first 30 minute run this morning I must say that I quite like this circuit. The first three corners are among the most difficult. It is all about getting into them with a lot of speed, and the first corner is pretty fast initially. But then it tightens up more and more and you have to shift down a gear. Getting out the other end in good shape is a bit more difficult. I like this even if it is a bit disappointing not to have been able to do a decent qualifying lap. With so little running, my brakes and tyres were never at the right temperature. But the team has time to fine tune the car for the first race tomorrow".
Earl Bamber: "I was not so pleased in the morning because we had a lot of traffic and I don't yet really know the limits of the car so it was hard to push at the right moment. The first session was a real experience on such a huge scale track which offers a mixture of very different corners. There are some slow areas but also several fast sections. It is very challenging. I like this even if I was cautions from the start. I think we can set a good pace for the race following my ninth place in qualifying. The team worked hard during the session and we improved the car balance. The tyres worked well and the car was fine. Let's see how it works and what we can achieve. I hope my good luck continues."
Peter Thompson: "With Earl Bamber, MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara achieved its goal in qualifying. It was hard to achieve because Earl did his times as there were only two laps left. A pity we did not achieve the same with Alex. He had a problem with the gearbox after the first red flag and it took us the rest of the session to fix it."
Trident Racing - Chris Van der Drift (16th) Giacomo Ricci (20th)
The 2008-2009 season of the GP2 Asia Series officially took off today at Shanghai. On the Chinese racetrack, 26 drivers joined the field for qualifying starting the second edition of the Asian-bound tournament. In the single session, determining the starting grid for tomorrow's Race 1, rookie Chris Van der Drift took 16th place, 4 spots in front of team-mate Giacomo Ricci. Unfortunately, one of the two red-flag interruptions that stopped on-track activities caught both drivers out with sticker tires, jeopardizing any effort. Despite the results were behind expectations, all the team is looking forward to a possible recovery starting from the first race
Chris Van der Drift: "Today's qualifying result was conditioned by a really weird problem, as the car was tending to the right side. We noticed the issue for the first time in practice, and we tried to find a solution by replacing all the car's dampers. Unfortunately the issue came back during qualifying. The team is now working on a global check, in order to be ok for Race 1. After the disappointing 16th place scored today, I feel I'll have the chance to rebound tomorrow and climb up the order".
Giacomo Ricci: "I'm not satisfied with today's 20th place, and the team was clearly not rewarded by the result. I suffered from understeering during the whole session but, maybe I'm being optimist, I feel with such a great team like Trident Racing we'll be ready to fight back to the top as early as tomorrow".
Maurizio Salvadori, Team Owner: "Trident Racing started today its 4th season of activity with the opening round of the GP2 Asia Series. Although the second edition of the Asian trophy started just weeks after the conclusion of the GP2 Main Series, we were able to field two fully-staffed cars for rookie driver Chris Van der Drift and young Italian talent Giacomo Ricci. The team is still working for next year's Main Series, as teams and drivers will be back on-track soon at Jerez, with another round of collective testing. I also want to welcome on-board Riccardo Corbari, who joined Trident Racing with his huge load of experience and motivation. Corbari will be working together with Alessandro Alunni Bravi in order to strengthen the team's organizational compartment in this moment of strong and fast expansion".