Fabio Leimer will start tomorrow’s Feature Race at Bahrain from the second row of the grid after setting the 4th fastest time in today’s qualifying.
The morning practice session took place in very hot conditions, the air temperature was over 30° and the track was a scorching 41°. Both of the Racing Engineering drivers waited until the session was nearly half over before setting a time with young Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon the first to complete a flying lap taking the 12th fastest time. Fabio Leimer was immediately on the pace a few minutes later when the Swiss driver set the 5th fastest time.
At the end of the 30 minute session, which was only interrupted briefly by one yellow flag, Leimer finished in 6th place just 0.9 seconds away from the fastest time whilst Berthon was 0.7 seconds slower in 13th.
The track temperature had dropped to 31° at the start of the 30 minute afternoon qualifying session and all 26 cars immediately went out on track as the pit lane lights turned green. With just seven minutes gone Leimer moved into 5th place and Berthon took 17th on his first flying lap.
After 12 minutes Berthon improved his lap time to move up to 12th as Leimer pulled into the pits to fit the softer compound Pirelli tyres to his Racing Engineering car. A red flag for debris on the track meant that the session was suspended for several minutes and as the cars returned to the track there were still over 16 minutes of qualifying left.
With 7 minutes remaining Leimer moved up to 4th with a time of 1m 41.798s, 0.6 seconds slower than the fastest time set so far. With just a few seconds remaining Berthon began his last flying lap but his fastest time of 1m 42.427 was only good enough for 18th on the grid.
Starting tomorrow’s Feature Race from the second row of the grid will give Leimer an excellent chance to finish on the podium and he will, of course, be looking for the race win. For Berthon his main aim will be to move up into a points scoring position and get a good grid position for Sunday’s Sprint Race.