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pic 09/10/15 Alexander Rossi qualifies third today for Racing Engineering at Sochi.

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The diesel spillage from a course vehicle between turns 7 and 8 that had badly disrupted the F1 practice session had left the track still slippery as the GP2 cars took to the track for their forty five minute practice session this morning under dark, overcast skies with a track temperature of 23°.

Both of the Racing Engineering cars did a single installation lap before returning to the pits but Alexander Rossi and Jordan King were soon back on track as both men began to learn the circuit as neither of them had raced here before. Jordan was immediately up to 7th on his second flying lap with a time of 1:48.891s and Alexander was right behind him in 8th less than a tenth of a second slower. The young American quickly reduced his lap time to 1:48.263s before moving up to 4th with a time of 1:47.197s and Jordan was also going faster and faster stopping the clock at 1:47.701s for 7th fastest.

As the session reached the halfway point both of the Racing Engineering cars returned to the pits for set up adjustments just as a little rain began to fall. With fourteen minutes remaining Jordan returned to the track and immediately improved to 1:47.479s and then to 1:47.187s. Alexander waited until there were just ten minutes left before leaving the pits and on his first flying lap he moved up to 8th with a lap of 1:46.661s and then to 7th on 1:46.448s.

The rain that had affected the F1 practice had left the track wet and slippery as the thirty minute qualifying session got under way and all the cars were fitted with Pirelli wet tyres. Alexander’s first flying lap saw him go fastest on 2:06.053s with Jordan 7th with a time of 2:06.773s, the young American improved to 2:05.403s on his next lap and his British teammate was right behind on 2:05.794s. The lap times were dropping quickly as the drivers got used to the conditions and Alexander went back to the top of the time sheets with a 2:03.897s but he was surpassed by Jordan who then went fastest with a 2:03.658s lap.

As the session reached the fifteen minute mark both Racing Engineering cars returned to the pits for some final adjustments before returning to the track with just over eight minutes remaining. Conditions were now improving as the spray was now decreasing and there were dry lines appearing on parts of the track, Alexander took advantage of this to go fastest with a time of 2:02.141s but traffic stopped him from improving further. The session came to an end with Alexander just failing to go improve his time but it was good enough for 3rd but Jordan was unable to benefit from the improving track conditions as he was suffering from a vibration at the front of his car and so finished a disappointed 14th.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “A hard working day for the whole team. Free practice was busy trying different settings on both cars and with track condition a little bit tricky as some areas were slightly wet following the diesel issue during the F1 FP1. Free practice classification was not too good for us but a lot of information had been gathered so in this sense it was positive to be able to fine-tune the choices for the rest of the weekend. The qualifying session started on a fully wet track and after the first stint, both of our drivers were in the Top 5, showing a strong pace every lap. The circuit then gradually started to dry up, but only in some areas so it made it difficult for everybody. Alex has done a good job, finishing in P3 but we were in good shape for the pole position in the last lap, until Alex found a slow Visoiu in sector 2, which hampered his time. Jordan unfortunately suffered from a vibration on the front end of his car, limiting him during his second stint which sees him finishing in a disappointing P14. We are looking into this issue tonight to solve it and looking forward to the Feature Race tomorrow.”

Jordan King: “It started off well today, the speed of the car was good and we were third on the first set of tyres, but then we started to have a brake problem towards the end of the first run, so by the second run it just got worse and worse so I couldn’t improve as the track was getting grippier. This is a bit annoying as I think we should have been near to starting towards the front so it will make for an interesting race tomorrow. AS for the circuit I am quite happy as I think we can overtake some people, so we will see how it goes.”

Alexander Rossi:: “Qualifying was obviously a bit different to practice, it was very wet and it was strange as there was only wet in sector 3 in sector 1 and sector 2 it was pretty dry, so it was a bit of a strange session. Anyway, the car was good and we were fighting at the top from lap 1 on and I really thought we had the potential for pole. Unfortunately there was some traffic on my last push lap and it didn’t work out for us but we are at the front for tomorrow, which is the main goal. Stoffel is right next to us, so we have to find a way to improve on the dry set up as it will be dry tomorrow and so fight and go for the win.”
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