Series leader Jolyon Palmer has left only crumbs to his rivals in today’s GP2 Series qualifying session. The Briton set a blazing laptime of 1:23.383 in the early stages that would never be bettered. Stoffel Vandoorne and Stefano Coletti completed the top three.
It was scorching hot as the qualifying session opened at the Hockenheimring – the track temperatures recording 58 degrees Celsius. All cars fed onto the track on Pirelli Soft tyres and Johnny Cecotto set the early pace, only to be bettered by Caterham’s Tom Dillmann. Felipe Nasr was the first man to break the 1m24s barrier but was soon edged out of the top spot by Palmer who, of his third lap, was able to clock in the best laptime of the session.
Vandoorne also found some clean air to dip under 1m24s along with Alexander Rossi, but both men were unable to match Palmer’s pace. Ten minutes into the session, this morning’s fastest man Coletti moved up to second but remained three tenths slower than the Briton. All cars returned to the pits for a new set of rubbers and with nine minutes left on the clock the action resumed – except for Palmer and Dillmann who chose to rejoin the track five minutes before the chequered flag.
Traffic intensified on the circuit, but Stéphane Richelmi somehow found a clear gap to be on a flyer in the first two sectors only to see his efforts reduced to nothing with a slow final one. The story was different for Vandoorne who improved in the dying minutes, enough to move up to P2, but not enough to steal pole from Palmer.
At the chequered flag, the Briton enjoyed a third pole position this season ahead of Vandoorne and Coletti. GP2 returnee Dillmann finished fourth ahead of Nasr, Arthur Pic, Cecotto, Raffaele Marciello (who was improving on his final push lap but seemed to be blocked by a slow Takuya Izawa in the last portion of the track), Rossi and Simon Trummer.