French driver Jules Bianchi has never been far from the top of the timesheets for all four days of pre-season testing at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, and his ultimate reward was to claim the fastest lap of any of the drivers on the shorter 4.730km track configuration that will host the opening round of GP2 Asia at the end of the week.

Bianchi set the time midway through the morning session of the final day of testing. Earlier it had been his Lotus ART team mate Esteban Gutierrez setting the pace ahead of Carlin's Max Chilton, but once Bianchi put in his lap of 1:35.940 there was no one who could touch him: Davide Valsecchi came closest, in another very promising and impressive showing for the GP2 rookies Team AirAsia, although Valsecchi was also the cause of an early red flag when he stopped out on track 20 minutes into the session, suggesting the team still have work to do on their long distance reliabilty.

The morning session proved to be the time when the teams and drivers got their thirst for fastest laps out of their system, and in the afternoon their focus switched to completing race simulations. Racing Engineering's Dani Clos topped the timesheets early on, followed by Super Nova's Johnny Cecotto Jr.

The running order was largely unchanged for the first two hours of the afternoon, but there were two red flags before the midway point - first for Mikhail Aleshin stopping out on track at turn 3, and then Julian Leal stopping at turn 17 shortly after the track went green again. After this, Team AirAsia's Luiz Razia edged Clos off the top and was soon joined at the top of the tiemsheets by his team mate Valsecchi as the two undertook a private battle over who would finish fastest.

A late red flag for a stoppage by Charles Pic in the pitlane exit interrupted proceedings and left only 20 minutes' running available to the teams. But halfway through this final period, Valsecchi was involved in a collision with the Dams car of Romain Grosjean that brought out another red flag while the cars were recovered. Despite this, Valsecchi still ended up with the fastest time of the afternoon ahead of Razia, while iSport's Sam Bird slipped into third place in the timings in the final moments.

"We are in a very good situation after four days of testing," said Valsecchi after the day's running was over. "We are competitive and looking very strong, and I feel we deserve to be in the top five in qualifying."

His Team AirAsia team mate Razia agreed: "After four days work I am very pleased we have found the right set-up for the car," he said. "The team are working hard and making intelligent decisions, so if we can maintain this rhythm in qualifying there's no reason why we can't be very competitive."

This concluded the two two-day pre-season tests for the GP2 teams and drivers ahead of GP2 Asia's first race weekend, which starts with qualifying on Thursday at 1.25pm GMT and the first feature race of the series on Friday, February 11 at 12.55pm GMT.

Full test times from day 4 are available in the results section.



Loading Comments...