|The conditions for the morning 45 minute free practice session were overcast and cool with a threat of rain, the air and track temperatures were 19° and 25° respectively and all the cars were using the yellow, soft compound Pirelli tyres at the start.
From the moment the session began Stefano Coletti was on the pace, going second fastest after ten minutes and then fastest a few minutes later with a lap of 1:23.314s. The young Monegasque quickly reduced his time to 1:22.368s and then again to 1:21.902s. Most of the cars returned to the pits for final adjustments with twenty minutes remaining and many drivers switched to the red Supersoft Pirelli but Stefano stayed on the harder tyre. At the end of the session the Racing Engineering driver was in 4th place with his earlier time, only beaten by the cars that had opted for the softer, grippier tyre.
For Raffaele Marciello this first session was very much about learning the Monaco circuit in a GP2 car, not an easy task but the young Italian soon showed his talent once again as he constantly went faster throughout the session and while he couldn’t match the times of his far more experienced teammate he finished the session in 15th with a time of 1:22.937s.
Although the sun had come out in the afternoon for the two qualifying sessions the temperatures were still very similar with air and track temperatures of 21° and 24° respectively. All the cars were running the red Supersoft compound tyres and Lello was running in the first 16 minute session and Stefano in the second.
Lello’s first flying lap was 1:23.638s which he quickly improved to 1:22.652s to go 4th, once again the Racing Engineering driver improved by 0.7 seconds to move up to 3rd as the session entered its last few minutes. With time for just one more lap Lello tried once more but had to settle for1:21.917s for 5th fastest.
After his fast laps this morning Stefano was immediately on the pace again going 2nd with a time of 1:22.843s in the second session but yellow flags immediately caused the cars to slow. With eight minutes remaining Coletti went for another fast lap going to the top of the timing sheets with a 1:21.649s. As the session entered it’s dying minutes Stefano tried once again but he lost some time behind a slower car and could not improve so 4th was his final position.
Tomorrow’s 42 lap Feature Race will see Stefano start 8th and Lello 9th with both men looking to finish on the podium.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “Qualifying didn't go as well as free practice for Stefano. Overall the lap times were very close and even if we were topping the time sheets during the first part of qualifying, we didn't manage to improve during the second part like other drivers. Lello, on the other hand, improved compared to free practice as he got to know the track better. He finished in P5 in his group, 9th overall. Both drivers are starting from within the top 10 and can score points as a lot is possible here in Monaco.”
Rafaele Marciello: “For my first qualifying it wasn't too bad. P9 is not a bad position for me, but looking at the weekend overall, we can still take good points in race 1. But the focus has to be on race 2 as I could have a good starting position on Saturday. It's a bit sad as the potential was there, so we will lean from that.”
Stefano Coletti:: “Qualifying wasn't good compared to the morning session, where the car was better; the traffic didn't help either as during the last two laps I improved but encountered traffic, which kept me from finishing a fast lap. I think we also need to check the car as after the engine change we maybe didn't have sufficient time to check everything on the set up. There is still the possibility to score good points this weekend. We need to see how we handle the strategy as here the main point is to stay out of traffic. If we achieve this, big points are possible.”