Palmer tops day 1 at Yas Marina
The 2014 GP2 Series has officially started today at Yas Marina Circuit with the opening of the first of two three day test sessions. All 26 drivers were eager to take to the track and it was rookie Stoffel Vandoorne who was the first man in action in his ART machine. The rest of the field followed to complete their installation laps on Pirelli Medium tyres.
On a dirty track, Daniel Abt set the early pace, but it was a majorly quiet first half of the session with the drivers playing the waiting game and hoping for a cleaner circuit. An hour and a half into the session, it was Vandoorne who had covered the most laps (15). The laptimes started to drop and it was Mitch Evans who took top spot before a red flag period after the Kiwi’s teammate Artem Markelov stopped his car at Turn 4. At the restart, Alexander Rossi and Felipe Nasr took turns at the top of the standings. The proceedings were briefly halted a second time after Facu Regalia also stopped on track.
In the final stages, Rio Haryanto found some extra pace and set a laptime of 1:50.862 which was good enough to head the timings. At the chequered flag, the Indonesian driver was leading teammate Rossi, Jolyon Palmer, Stéphane Richelmi, Nasr, Johnny Cecotto, Julian Leal, Jon Lancaster, Rene Binder and Evans.
After the lunch break, the action returned with the DAMS pair quick to take to the track, and Richelmi setting the early pace in a 1:50.715. Nasr bettered the Monegasque driver’s time by three tenths right before his teammate Leal stopped on the circuit at Turn 20 briefly stopping the proceedings. When the track went live again, Nasr was able to improve some more and became the first man to dip under 1m50s. Soon after that, it was Cecotto’s turn to shine and steal the top spot from the Brazilian with a laptime of 1:49.892.
With one hour left on the clock, Palmer was able to set a laptime of 1:49.143, seven tenths quicker than Cecotto. Evans managed to improve on his personal best, but remained one tenth behind the Briton. Palmer even found some extra pace in the closing stages to set a time of 1:49.126. A final red flag period briefly interrupted the session after rookie Axcil Jefferies span and stopped at Turn 19. At the chequered flag, Palmer remained top ahead of Evans. Richelmi moved up to third in the dying minutes to finish ahead of Abt, Vandoorne, Cecotto, Nasr, Stefano Coletti, Rossi and newcomer Arthur Pic.