Pierre Gasly enjoyed his second GP2 Series pole position of the season in a thrilling qualifying session at Bahrain International Circuit. The Frenchman from DAMS set a laptime of 1:39.572, 0.040s better than 2015 GP2 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne. Ferrari academy driver Raffaele Marciello finished P3.
The session opened once again in high temperatures and under grey skies with 70% humidity. The twenty-four drivers fed onto the track on Pirelli soft tyres and it was Jordan King who set the early pace in a 1:40.217 with Gasly in tow (+0.182).
At the ten minute mark, Vandoorne dipped under 1m40s to go top. King improved but was unable to better the Belgian’s laptime. Norman Nato upset the British driver from Racing Engineering further by edging him out of P2.
Mid-session, the majority of the field returned to the pits for some fresh rubber and started to play the waiting game. One driver however was on a different strategy: Alexander Rossi found himself on a completely empty track with the sole mission to maximise the opportunity. Unfortunately for the American, he was not able to find the pace and ended his efforts with a fifth place.
With ten minutes left on the clock, as Rossi returned to the pits, the rest of the field exited. Marciello put his head down and lit sectors 1 and 2 in purple to claim the top spot, but Vandoorne would not let the Italian steal his thunder: he improved again and took provisional pole as Gasly also found some extra pace to move up to P2. Marciello went quickest again, but Gasly finally found the perfect lap to go top. His laptime of a 1:39.572 set three minutes before the end of the session was enough for pole today. Vandoorne improved one last time and edged Marciello out of P2.
At the chequered flag, behind the top 3, Alex Lynn took P4 ahead of King, Nato, Mitch Evans, Nobuharu Matsushita, Alexander Rossi and Arthur Pic.
Kiwi driver Richie Stanaway is not on the time sheets. He is driving for Aston Martin Racing in the 6 Hours of Bahrain, the final FIA World Endurance Championship round which is also taking place at the circuit this weekend.
1. Pierre Gasly DAMS 1:39.572
2. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:39.612
3. Raffaele Marciello Trident 1:39.648
4. Alex Lynn DAMS 1:39.661
5. Jordan King Racing Engineering 1:39.902
6. Norman Nato Arden International 1:40.004
7. Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 1:40.027
8. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:40.079
9. Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1:40.141
10. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:40.176