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di Grassi sets Budapest practice pace
24 July 2009
Lucas di Grassi announced that he was not about to abandon his GP2 Series title ambitions as he arrived in Hungary in top form, setting the quickest time in Friday morning's half-hour free practice session.
The Brazilian lapped the Hungaroring in 1min 28.261secs in the best of the Fat Burner Racing Engineering cars to end the session four-tenths clear of championship challenger Vitaly Petrov and former Racing Engineering driver Javier Villa.
In the heat of Budapest, with the track temperature rose to 41°C, the now Super Nova-run Spaniard was the fastest man in the early laps of the session, but he was soon knocked off the top spot when di Grassi upped the pace just before the ten-minute mark. The Brazilian's lap-time was never bettered, although Pastor Maldonado seemed set to go quicker until he lost the rear of his car at turn 13, having set the pace through sectors one and two. The incident prompted a yellow flag, restricting the amount of time available for improvements.
The track cleared with 20 minutes left on the clock, encouraging all drivers to chase top spot, starting with Petrov. But the Russian's attempts could not bring him closer
than four tenths to di Grassi as the Brazilian's time held firm.
The last ten minutes of the session were also marked by multiple yellow flags – a streak started by Karun Chandhok, who spun and went off track at turn twelve. He was soon imitated by Ocean team-mate Alvaro Parente in the first sector, but they were not the only ones, as both Luiz Razia and Petrov went off track and stopped
- respectively at turns 13 and eight - : as the clock ran out. The Russian damaged the nose of his Barwa Addax car as he crashed into the barrier, but should be okay for the afternoon's qualifying session.
Villa failed to improve on his first quickest lap and eventually finished P3 ahead of Romain Grosjean, Parente, Maldonado, Davide Valsecchi, Luca Filippi and Edoardo Mortara. Series leader Nico Hülkenberg completed the top ten.
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