x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Pole for Romain Grosjean in GP2 Asia season-opener at Yas

Romain Grosjean, who has his eye on a return to Formula One, will start from the pole position at Yas Marina Circuit this afternoon in the first GP2 Asia race of the season.

ABU DHABI // Romain Grosjean, DAM's French driver who raced with Renault F1 in 2009 and is hoping for a call from Lotus-Renault, will start on pole this afternoon in the GP2 Asia season-opener after finishing fastest during qualifying at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday.

The Swiss-born Frenchman clocked a fastest time of 1min 36.041secs as he snaked his way around the track.

Jules Bianchi, the ART driver who will test with Ferrari this season, was placed second, little more than four-hundreths of a second behind, while Davide Valsecchi gave Air Asia a memorable debut in the continental series with a third-placed time.

Grosjean said strategy is irrelevant at this early stage of the season and the most important thing is continuing to emulate yesterday's performance.

"It's always good to be on pole," Grosjean, 24, said.

"I knew my first lap was not bad and that I could improve and was happy that things worked out.

"Consistency is the main thing this season; we can adjust strategy if need be, but for now it is not so important."

Valsecchi was jubilant to be starting today's race from third place on the grid.

"It's a great feeling to be competitive," said Valsecchi, who denied that being the reigning GP2 Asia champion has landed additional pressure on his shoulders.

"Maybe we were not competitive enough to reach pole, but we were always in the top five," he said.

"The team has done an incredible job and we were always confident to finish in the top five.

"Finishing 10th in qualifying would have been difficult, but finishing third means we can maybe challenge Romain and Jules."

Lotus-Renault are searching for a driver to replace Robert Kubica, who was badly injured in a rally crash and will miss at least the first two months of the F1 season.