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Gutierrez tops Abu Dhabi practice session

11 November 2011

Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez claimed first blood at this weekend's GP2 Final event at Abu Dhabi, the Lotus ART going over half a second faster than his nearest rival for the top spot who was Fabio Leimer in the Racing Engineering car.

Dry and warm conditions meant that the many new faces on in the GP2 paddock couldn't have got a better introductory session, and all 26 cars were quickly out onto the Yas Marina circuit to make the most of the opportunity.

The first 15 minutes of the 45 minute session saw Leimer and Dillmann contest the top spot with Dani Clos, with the GP3 graduate Dillmann coming out best by the time yellow flags were showing for Julian Leal, who had spun off and slid into the barrier at turn 19. It was a costly error for the Trident driver who had to sit out the rest of the session as a result, and consequently lost vital track familiarisation time.

Once the track was green again, Gutierrez was the first to make use of the clear circuit and slammed in a time of 1:50.442s, 1.5s than the best so far and ultimately a target that no one could match for the rest of the session.

Leimer and Dillmann did close up as the track started to rubber in and the desert dust was cleaned off by the running of the cars, and they ended the session just over half a second off Gutierrez' top time with a mere four hundredth between them. Max Chilton, Dani Clos, Luiz Razia and Nathanael Berthon also all managed to close to within a second of Gutierrez' benchmark, with everyone else 1s or more adrift.

Giacomo Ricci slipped into tenth place by the end, but along with rookie Nicolas Marroc was declared under investigation for ignoring waved yellow flags during the session. Both drivers were subsequently handed a ten grid place position penalty for tomorrow's feature race.

Stefano Coletti finished in ninth place on his return from back injuries sustained in the GP2 feature race at Spa earlier this year, despite reporting big handling problems with the Coloni car; and Alexander Rossi finished in 14th place on his GP2 d├ębut after reporting that he was suffering from technical problems late in the practice period.

The cars return to action for qualifying at 2.55pm local time, following the F1 first free practice session. The Saturday morning feature race is at 11am on Saturday and the sprint race is on Sunday ar 1.30pm local time.

Full Friday practice times are available


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