There were mixed fortunes today in Monaco qualifying for Spain’s Racing Engineering with Alvaro Parente setting the 5th fastest time but he will start from the 4th spot due to a penalty applied to Bianchi. Dani Clos was back in 18th spot through no fault of his own. However the grid positions are still provisional as several incidents are still under investigation by the race officials.
The morning 30 minute Free Practice period was held in warm, sunny weather with all the GP2 teams anxious to learn about the new super-soft compound Pirelli tyres. As ever, at Monaco, the session was punctuated with incidents as cars spun or made contact with the barriers and the session was interrupted by a red flag following contact between two drivers.
At the end of the session the young Spaniard Clos once again showed his skill on the tight, demanding Monaco track when he set the second fastest time. His Racing Engineering team-mate, the Portuguese driver, Alvaro Parente who is still learning about the 2011 Dallara was in 17th spot amongst a group of 10 drivers separated by just 1.5 seconds.
As ever the 30 minute afternoon Qualifying session would be vital as a good grid spot at Monaco is necessary for a good result. As in the morning session yellow flags and a red flag would prove critical for many drivers as their fast laps would have to be aborted by incidents on the track.
The final qualifying times saw Parente in an excellent 4th position, following the penalty to Bianchi, less than 0.6 seconds away from pole position. For Clos it was a disappointing session as he ran foul of some poor driving and his best lap was ruined by a yellow flag and he ended in 18th spot.
Tomorrow’s 42 lap Feature Race will see Parente in a position to score a very good result and a podium finish will certainly be the priority for the Portuguese driver. For Clos his aim will be to gain as many positions as he can in order to be as high up the grid as possible for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
Dani Clos: “Well, this was a hard qualifying. I am really happy with the behaviour of the car, but not so much with the behaviour of some other drivers. I really struggle to understand some of their brainless manoeuvres. I was blocked twice on laps that could have been pole. On one of them by Sam Bird, who made a really ugly move in the last corner when he saw I was quick. I needed to enter the pits to have my car repaired and I had only one more lap. I improved in sector 1 and 2, but yellow flags in sector 3 meant I had to abort the lap, which I think was quick enough for a top 3 starting place on the grid.”
Alvaro Parente: “I am quite happy that I have done this lap time. I got at least one solid lap in and even then I found another car in front of me in the last corner. I lost time there, but the rest of the lap was good. I am happy I had this opportunity and managed to place the car higher up than last weekend. This is good for the team and myself. Now we will see what tomorrow brings.”
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “Don't know what to say. That was by far the craziest and most dangerous qualifying I have ever seen. Some of the driving that took place is not of the calibre of a GP2 driver. Let's see what penalties will be applied.
Sadly, this caused Dani to have some serious damage to his car, which was never properly fixed. So sadly, his starting position does not reflect his ability.
Alvaro did a fantastic job, pity he found traffic and yellow flags when he could have improved. But overall, starting 4th is not bad at all for a driver that has not properly raced in nearly a year. I am very impressed.
Once again, the technical staff and the boys did a great job. Now we have to get ready for tomorrow's race.”
Race 1: 27 May 2011 09:15:00 GMT +1
Race 2: 28 May 2011 14:10:00 GMT +1