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Palmer goes P7 during closely fought Malaysia qualifying

Friday, March 23 2012

Jolyon Palmer continued his impressive start to the opening GP2 rounds in Malaysia to go seventh quickest during today's (Friday) closely fought qualifying session, which saw the top 20 drivers separated by just one second.

After topping the timesheets during the earlier practice session, Jolyon began the hot, humid 30-minute session on the option medium tyres, with the iSport team opting for a different tyre strategy and hoping to take advantage of the rubber laid down by the previous F1 session.

With the rest of the field starting on the harder compound, the 21-year-old began well by going quickest on the first two sectors of his opening flying lap but was forced to pull out when he encountered traffic.

Jolyon and team-mate Marcus Ericsson then elected to pit with Jolyon rejoining at the halfway stage and going straight in at P5 with a time of 1:45.758s.

The Brit returned to the track on the harder Pirelli tyres with eight minutes left on the clock but was unable to better his time to line up P7 for tomorrow's 31-lap Feature Race with Ericsson P20.

Speaking afterwards Jolyon said: "We did two runs on the harder tyres in qualifying and finished P7. I set my best lap on my first flying lap of the session and couldn't improve. We are only 0.2s off pole though which is probably down to the slight difference in tyre compound. However, we are in the best position for the race with two good prime sets which should be more durable."

Davide Valsecchi secured the fastest time for the session and will line up on pole with Luiz Razia second and Max Chilton third.

Jolyon returns to the track tomorrow at 03:00 (UK time) for the weekend's opening Feature Race. Full coverage is available on the new Sky Sports F1 Channel as well as Jolyon's official website.

GP2 Malaysia, Qualifying results:

1. D Valsecchi, DAMS, 1:45.494s
2. L Razia, Arden, +0.060s
3. M Chilton, Carlin, +0.064s
4. S Coletti, Scuderia, +0.083s
5. F Leimer, Racing, +0.094s
6. J Calado, Lotus GP, +0.144s
7. J Palmer, iSport. +0.264s
8. G VD Garde, Caterham, +0.279s
9. F Onidi, Scuderia, +0.316s
10. F Nasr, DAMS, +0.448s