Nelson Piquet Jr took another two points from GP2 Series title rival Lewis Hamilton's advantage by securing pole position for Saturday's feature race at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey.

The pole is Piquet's fifth of the season and continues the Brazilian's strong showing from the last round of the series, in Hungary, three weeks ago, where he scored GP2's first maximum points haul. The gap between himself and Hamilton is now just nine points - less than a race win on Saturday - with four races to go.

Piquet underlined his intent with fastest time in free practice, then set the pace with his first flying lap in qualifying, posting a mark of 1min 34.741secs to move nearly a second ahead of the opposition. Although lap times fell throughout the session, and Jose Maria Lopez eventually set a time just 0.004secs slower than the Piquet Sports car, no-one managed to top the Brazilian's time.

"Everything was good today," Piquet smiled afterwards, "As usual, our first set of tyres were perfect and I did a good lap, but we couldn't get quicker. It was a little bit tense at the end, but everything finished well.

"I knew the lap was good, but I also knew everybody could still go quicker. I thought I could have done a bit better too, but I got a bit of traffic on the second set of tyres, and I had a yellow flag, so I didn't have the perfect chance. It's already happened a few times this season - we go quick on the first set but, on the second, I get a little mistake or a bit of traffic."

Despite seeing Lopez come close to toppling him - and depriving him of those vital two points - Piquet insists that he and his family-run team have found both fortune and performance at a critical juncture.

"I think that we're doing well," he claimed, "I just think that everything's working perfectly now.

"At Silverstone, I was very sick, and, at Magny-Cours, I had a little set-up problem that wasn't very good for the first race, although the second race was good. At Hockenheim, I had problems but I think, in the last few races, things have been going better and the results just come.

"We've got the momentum at the right stage of the championship, right at the end, and things are going very well. I hope it continues and we continue to do a good job. Hopefully, it will be a safe race and we'll be on the top of the podium - just on the podium would be very good. We just have to try and finish as close as possible to Lewis this weekend to bring the championship to Monza."

Having seemingly been out of the title race after his Hockenheim disaster, Piquet has clawed his way back to within touching distance of the lead, but admits that the turnaround does not come without its own problems.

"I think, for sure, there is pressure on me now, but there is pressure on Lewis too," he explained, "It's something that every driver has to deal with. Every driver has their own pressure and goals, everybody wants to win the race.

"Pressure is something you have to deal with for your whole life in this sport, it's something that we are used to. For sure, I will drive carefully this weekend. I'm not going to drive riskily or anything because I'm fighting for the championship. If something goes wrong, it'll be the end."

 

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