Team Brazil got off to a fantastic start at the third round of the A1 Grand Prix series at Circuito Estoril in Portugal when Nelson Piquet Jr put the team on pole position for first race.

Nonetheless, qualifying was not a seamless exercise for the championship leaders, when Piquet spun during the first session. He more than made up for his mistake in the second session though when he recorded the fastest lap of the weekend at that point, breaking the 1 minute 31 second barrier for the first time, with a time of 1:30.755. After another good lap in the third session he moved up to provisional second place, with Team Switzerland ahead by 0.165s.

However, a strong final lap helped Piquet vault past Neel Jani in the fourth session, putting himself on pole position by a healthy half second. Piquet Jr was understandably delighted to record pole, especially having been put under pressure when he spun.

"I am really happy, especially after we had the spin on the first lap", Piquet said. "It was the first time the circuit has been completely dry but it was not actually much quicker than the end of practice, so I really pushed hard on old tyres and I made a mistake and slipped."

"I felt the car was not very well-balanced, so we changed a lot in the ten minutes before the second session. The car was much better then, and I did some good laps and everything went well in the end."

Team boss Emerson Fittipaldi was equally pleased to have gained pole position after a tricky weekend up to that point. "It is a very special day because everyone has run on damp and wet so far and this is the first time we have run on dry."

"It's hard for anyone to get a good first run in that situation. I am very happy with the team performance, the engineer who improved the car based on Nelsinho's feedback, and of course with Nelsinho who did a fantastic job. It's a fantastic start for us."



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