Clivio Piccione ensured a solid start to life in A1GP for Monaco by securing a place on the third row of the grid for the opening rounds of the 2008/09 season at Zandvoort.
Piccione was the first car to leave the pit garages when conditions were reasonably dry at the start of the first morning practice session but as wet weather drew in, the field experienced limited running as hazardous wet conditions caused a number of cars to spin and leave the tarmac. As conditions improved during the remainder of practice, Piccione was able to secure a solid sixth place on the timesheets heading into qualifying.
Piccione then held fifth place for most of the session, but after a number of red flag situations and continuous track improvement, the more experienced teams picked up the pace towards the middle of the session. The Monaco entry dropped briefly to ninth, but with only two minutes of the hour remaining Piccione set a fastest time of 1min 25.118secs and elevated the team back to fifth ahead of its debut race.
“The track was quite tricky at the start of the first practice session and conditions were very windy, so I only got two or three laps in the dry before it started raining,” he said. “We did a few runs in the wet and the car was improving with each lap, so it was good to try runs in both dry and wet, slippery conditions. Overall our lap times in the morning were good and I was happy with the car. We went into Qualifying initially on an old set of tyres to get a base line set-up. The track was even windier than in the morning, so the car was a bit snappy.
“We put on our first set of tyres, but on my out lap there was a red flag, so I had to come back into the pits. We went out again and put in a reasonable lap time. The car suffered from bit of understeer on our next outing, so we made a few changes and finally put on our last set of tyres at the end of the session and the car really improved on the front. Unfortunately I had a bit of traffic on my flying lap, which is a shame as the performance and grip were there, but overall I am happy with the result; to be in fifth place for the start of our first race in the championship is a good result.”