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 J?r?me 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."

Enjoying a more successful outing, if not an entirely trouble-free one, was regular frontrunner Andreas Zuber. Having been fifth in practice, the Piquet Sports driver improved in the afternoon and finished third fastest. Although he again saw off the challenge of team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who was only 15th, the Austrian remained concerned that the team still has problems with its brakes, which fluctuated between the front and rear of his car throughout the session.

"This time I gave 100 per cent, driving at the absolute limit," he reported, "More would simply have been impossible, although perhaps I could have gotten [Romain] Grosjean - unfortunately, during my fastest lap, there was a lot of traffic on the circuit. I was a bit slower with the first set of tyres, but improved by a tenth with the second set, although it was very difficult to accomplish a faultless lap. I'm not yet completely satisfied, so I hope for a good start tomorrow - a place on the podium would really be perfect."

Super Nova's Alvaro Parente showed an improvement in his qualifying results after a solid effort left him seventh on the grid for the feature race.

"In qualifying, Alvaro improved a lot from the past couple of races and, in fact, at one point, looked like he would be at the front," team principal David Sears noted, "He finally ended up seventh, much closer to the front than recently."

"On the first set of tyres, I put in a good lap but, on the second set, we did a small change, but didn't improve my time, which I was hoping for and expecting," Parente added, "The improvement is very good though, which I hope will continue throughout the weekend."

Having never raced at Hockenheim before, team-mate Andy Soucek used free practice to familiarise himself with the layout, but will start only 16th on the grid.

"It was tough qualifying today," the Spaniard commented, "In free practice, the track was very slippery and I spun twice in corner twelve, probably the most technical part of the circuit. So, in qualifying, on my first set of tyres, I was not very happy or confident and lost time in this last sector. However, on my last set of tyres, in the last sector, I made up four tenths. Now I hear it's going to rain, so I am prepared for this. I'm hoping to take advantage of the overtaking opportunities here to try to push my way to the front!"

Karun Chandhok was also unfamiliar with Hockenheim, having raced at the Nurburgring in GP2 last season. The Indian, who endured his usual mixed bag at Silverstone, qualified tenth, but will start ninth after Kobayashi's penalty takes effect.

"It was slightly odd, because I was quick in the first sector, but struggled to get the car balanced in the other two," he revealed, "I just didn't feel I had enough grip - and if you aren't completely comfortable, it's hard to attack the corners properly. It looks like I need to conjure another performance like Silverstone, where I climbed from tenth to third. There are some good passing opportunities here, which helps, and I have a good team around me, so I'm sure the car will be sorted by tomorrow."

Durango also felt that there was more to come from both its drivers after Davide Valsecchi qualified only 18th and Alberto Valerio 19th. The Italian, in particular, admitted that he had been as much to blame as his car.

"I made some mistakes and then my gearbox had a little failure," he reported, apportioning the blame, "At the end of the day, I have not been able to qualify in the first few rows, but I know I have something more to spend in my pocket - and I will do my best to spend it tomorrow."