Pastor Maldonado swept away the rest of the GP2 field at last month’s Paul Ricard tests – and the Venezuelan set out his stall again today for another dominant performance.
The experienced Rapax driver set the pace with a fastest lap of 1:27.457 of Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, put down in the faster afternoon session, in the last test before the season start at the same venue on May 8.
But the series rookies did not do such a bad job either, with four of them finishing in the top five. ART’s Sam Bird led Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris, Arden’s Charles Pic and Super Nova’s Marcus Ericsson.
The first two hours of the morning session were quiet, with Ocean’s Max Chilton and Vietoris successively topping the unofficial timesheet.
But, in the final hour, Vietoris’ best effort was seen off by Addax’ Giedo van der Garde who held on until the chequered flag. He was followed closely by Bird whose ART team-mate Jules Bianchi moved up to P4 ahead of Pic.
Following a red flag, deployed after Dams’ Ho-Pin Tung encountered the Turn 5 barriers, Maldonado improved to claim the fourth-best lap time of the session. Behind him were Dams’ Jérôme d’Ambrosio, iSport’s Oliver Turvey, Pic, Trident’s Adrian Zaugg and Super Nova’s Josef Kral.
In the afternoon session Bianchi quickly found his way to the top of the timesheet with Bird following closely in his footsteps. After an interlude where D’Ambrosio was fastest Maldonado moved up to P1.
Bird led following a brief rain spell but, with fifteen minutes left on the clock, Maldonado climbed back to the top of the timesheet ahead of him with Vietoris third and then Pic, Ericsson and Bianchi. Michael Herck climbed to P7 ahead of Valsecchi, Luiz Razia, and Kral.
The final spell of GP2 testing will reconvene tomorrow at 9am local time. For full results and standings visit the GP2 website here.