Kamui Kobayashi dropped five places down the GP2 Series grid ahead of Saturday's feature race at Hockenheim after being accused of impeding another driver during a typically fraught qualifying session.
Having finished second fastest in free practice on a circuit he knows well from his time in the F3 Euroseries, the DAMS driver was confident of a strong qualifying run, but changes in the weather posed a first hurdle as the set-up of his car was not as well suited to the track by the time the half-hour session rolled around. Although Kobayashi improved on his previous time, he did not move any higher up the order, finishing a disappointed eighth.
Things got worse, however, when the Japanese driver was notified of a five-place penalty for having baulked another driver, dropping him to 13th spot, alongside team-mate Jérôme d'Ambrosio.
“It's disappointing," Kobayashi admitted, "Things went off well this morning, and we were feeling confident about the rest of the day, but it didn't work out as we'd expected. Now, we have to concentrate on the race and try and make the most of the slightest opportunity.”
“We decided to send our cars out a bit later in the session, so as not to be penalised by traffic, and our grid positions do not reflect our true level of performance," team manager Eric Boullier added, "We'll have to use race incidents and the weather to make the best of the situation tomorrow, along with an aggressive and well-adapted strategy.”
Starting just ahead of Kobayashi, Luca Filippi insisted that he had enjoyed his first day on the job with Trust Team Arden, re-establishing working conditions that he had briefly enjoyed during winter testing. The Italian spent the day coming to terms with working in a new environment, and a small spin on his first flying lap in free practice showed him where the limit of the car, before he spent the rest of his time building speed.
"To be honest, I was pretty happy with everything today," Filippi claimed, "Okay, the ultimate pace was not there, but I have a much better feeling with the car now than this morning, and I am sure there is more to come.
"In practice, I was just learning how the car behaves, and I had a nice feeling with it. Every time, I could push a bit more and was a bit more on the brakes, but obviously this doesn't happen immediately. The team were great, they made me very calm in the car and we worked together in a really nice, straightforward way as we went through everything on the programme together.
"I am quite happy with the work we have done today. We are not at the front yet, but I feel good and I am sure there will be more to come when I can set up the car more the way that I like. For sure, this was what we expected, but the feeling is getting better and better, so I am sure there is more to come. Now we have to work hard overnight to make a good car for the race, and then we will see what we can do. I think that it is very possible to get some points tomorrow, and if so then we will be in a nice position for race two. I can't wait."