An unusually cool, overcast and blustery Valencia awaited the GP2
drivers on Friday morning for practice, but the GP2
field did at least have the advantage of earlier F1 and GP3 practice sessions having cleared the temporary street circuit of some of the dust and dirt on the track resulting from recent local construction works.
Davide Valsecchi set the first flying time with a lap of 1:53.246s a second faster than his DAMS team mate Felpe Nasr, but wasted his next run by running wide and briefly off the track. That allowed Coloni's Stefan Coletti, Arden's Luiz Razia and Trident's Stephane Richelmi to all go under the 1:50 mark over the next few minutes; Jolyon Palmer (iSport) then pushed the benchmark down even further with a strong lap of 1:48.771s that was immediately bettered by Carlin's Max Chilton.
Davide Valsecchi's next trouble-free lap rewarded him with a quick return to the top of the timing screens once more as he posted a lap of 1:48.251s, over a quarter of a second clear of Chilton and with Marcus Ericsson slipping into third ahead of his iSport team mate Palmer.
The Lotus GP and Caterham Racing drivers had all opted to stay in the pits during the first rush of on-track action and came out a little later into the session. James Calado immediately slotted into the top six, but his more experienced Lotus team mate Esteban Gutierrez seemed to be struggling to find his comfort level; while over at Caterham, Giedo van der Garde was also quickly able to break into the top positions but his team mate Rodolfo Gonzalez lost the back end over the curbs and spun exiting turn 12.
That left only the Racing Engineering duo of Fabio Leimer and Nathanaël Berthon without a representative flying lap time, as they had left it latest of all to venture out. With the clock not stopping under the red flag, all they could do was return to pit lane and watch the seconds tick away as Gonzalez' car was retrieved, leaving only nine minutes of running time once track activity resumed.
With everyone out on track for this final push, traffic became an increasing issue with many flying laps thwarted by running up onto the back of slower cars - van der Garde having a particularly scary moment closing up behind an unaware Fabrizio Crestani. Valsecchi himself was not able to improve on his earlier time, and had to watch as first Palmer and then van der Garde sliced into his gap at the top of the timesheets. In the end it was Palmer's team mate Marcus Ericsson who had what it took to depose the DAMS car from the top, his lap of 1:48.088s ultimately proving the fastest time of the morning by 0.163s over Valsecchi.
For Racing Engineering, Fabio Leimer was finally able to put his car into the top ten by the time the chequered flag came out, but his team mate Nathanaël Berthon struggled for grip, locked up and flat-spotted his tyres during his run, leaving him down in 20th place.
Replacing an unwell Ricardo Teixeira at Rapax, Dutch teenage AutoGP World Series star Daniël de Jong finished his first GP2
race weekend track outing in 24th place, almost four seconds off the leader's time but still over one and a half seconds ahead of series regular Giancarlo Serenelli in the Venezuela GP Lazarus.
Qualifying takes place this afternoon at 3pm, with the 30-lap feature race on Saturday afternoon at 2.40pm and the 23-lap sprint race on Sunday morning at 9.35am.
Full Friday practice times