Tom Dillmann clinched the first pole position of the 2011 GP3 season today, in his first ever GP3 race weekend. The Frenchman stormed to pole in the dying minutes of the session, only to put in another lap capable of pole on his next attempt. In an immensely competitive session where all 30 drivers were covered by just 1.4 seconds, Leonardo Cordeiro qualified 28th, with GP3 rookie Conor Daly 29th.
Under bright and sunny skies this morning, Dillmann gradually built up to the pace in the first half of the session before briefly going P4 with seven minutes still on the clock. As other drivers improved on their new rubber, Dillmann dropped to 16th before storming up the timing screens again to take provisional pole with three minutes remaining. The Carlin rookie confirmed his pace with a second lap good enough for pole and remained unbeaten despite final attempts by his rivals.
Team mate Conor Daly, who makes his European racing debut this weekend, was frustrated to having qualified 29th. However, the young American believes there is plenty of potential to improve. Daly struggled to get the most from his tyres in his first ever GP3 race weekend, but believes there is plenty of room for improvement. “It was a pretty frustrating session for me; obviously I am not happy to have qualified so far down. I think a struggled a little to bring in my new tyres in the second half of the session. The good thing though is that Tom has given us some very good data and we will be able to look at that as a team and move forwards.”
Leonardo Cordeiro, who also made his race debut with Carlin this weekend had a difficult session and feels he didn’t reach his true potential. The Brazilian struggled to make the most of his new rubber and saw his progress delayed slightly when he was called onto the weigh bridge half way through the session. “For sure we are capable of more than this grid position suggests”, said Cordeiro who qualified 28th. “I don’t think I warmed up my new tyres enough and didn’t get the most out of them, but I think the races will be a different story so we will focus on making progress.”
Speaking about his session, pole sitter Dillmann said, “I am very happy. We struggled a little bit in the second practice session yesterday, but we made a few changes overnight and this morning I adapted my driving style slightly. I tried not to push to hard and stress the tyres, but I was really surprised when I went quicker. I did the same again on the next lap and that was as quick again. I am very happy. We haven’t always been at the top in testing, but it’s qualifying that matters. We need to build on this now and focus on the race ahead.”
Trevor Carlin was delighted with his drivers’ performance saying, “I’m very pleased with Tom, he’s done an amazing job this morning. The engineers worked very late last night to fine tune the set-up and this combined with two perfect laps from Tom has given us a great start to the season. More importantly, Tom has provided us with some great data and feedback that will help us as a team going forward.”
Race one will take place at 17.20 local time this afternoon.