|The Monaco weather was ideal for the 30 minute morning free practice session, the air temperature was 22° and the track temperature was 33°. The majority of the cars began the session on the soft Pirelli compound and within a few minutes of the start of the session all the cars were out on the track.
Almost immediately Fabio Leimer was on the pace and after 4 laps he posted the fastest time so far with a lap of 1:25.456s whilst Julián Leal was a little slower with a best lap of 1:27.991s. Times began to fall and after 18 minutes Fabio was 2nd with a lap of 1:22.499s and Julián had moved up to 7th on 1:23.188s.
Most of the cars, including Fabio and Julián, pitted as the session approached the halfway point to tweak their setups and, in some cases, switch to the Supersoft Pirelli compound. Fabio’s efforts at bettering his time were thwarted by an off at St Devote and he didn’t improve on his earlier lap, finishing the session in 7th. Julián reduced his best lap to 1:22.795s for the 11th fastest time.
The afternoon qualifying session was split into two 15 minute sessions, the first for the odd numbered cars, including Julián, and the second, after a brief 10 minute break, for the even numbered cars, including Fabio. The weather continued to be good but the track temperature had increased to 42°.
With no time to waste the cars took to the track as soon as the first session began, with the Pirelli tyres requiring a warm-up lap and one flying lap before they reached optimum grip so the third lap, the second flying lap, would be critical. Julián’s first quick lap was 1:22.998s to put him second in the time sheets, and then with 5 minutes remaining the Racing Engineering car went faster to record a 1:22.495s to move up to 2nd but times were falling on every lap. With just over two minutes to go Julián improved again to 1:22.092s for 4th quickest, the position he would hold to the end of the session.
Once again all the cars took to the track as the second session began and Fabio’s second flying lap of 1:22.434s immediately put him at the top of the times but once again the times were starting to tumble as the drivers got used to the track and conditions. After a slow lap to cool his tyres the Racing Engineering driver improved his time by a few tenths to 1:22.265s but it was only good enough for 7th. After another slow lap to cool the tyres and, with three minutes remaining, Fabio went faster still with a 1:21.185s and, despite being slowed by traffic, went back to the top of the times. Only one other driver was able to improve on Fabio’s lap in the last few minutes leaving the young Swiss 2nd at the end of the 15 minutes.
Tomorrow’s grid will be based on alternate fastest times from the two sessions with the overall fastest driver starting from pole. With the fastest time coming in the first session, Fabio will start 4th on the second row of the grid, whilst Julián will start 7th from the 4th row. With both men qualifying well they will both be looking for a podium finish in tomorrow’s Feature Race but with the fastest four cars in qualifying separated by just 0.057 seconds it should be a very close race.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “Quite a positive result for both drivers in today's qualifying session. As always in Monaco, and despite splitting the field into two groups, we suffered from traffic at the end due to some drivers excessively slowing down. The pole was possible today for Fabio; Julian did really well by finishing in P7. But we now need to focus on tomorrow's race and confirm the good pace of our cars.”
Fabio Leimer: “I think today's qualifying was quite good. In the end it's a bit disappointing that we missed out pole only half a tenth. But overall we can be happy as starting from the second row is positive. The race tomorrow will be long and we have to make sure we finish the race and score as many points as possible.”
Julián Leal: “From the beginning of the day I saw the potential of the car as it was quite good. We improved some things for qualifying, which worked well. In the end we finished 4th in our group even though I had traffic on my fast lap and overtook one car in the last corner. Tomorrow I start 7th and from this position I have to keep up my concentration and drive a mistake free race as I am in a good position to score points.”
Race 1: Fri 24 May 2013, 11:15 (GMT+2)
Race 2: Sat 25 May 2013, 16:10 (GMT+2)