Pic powers to pole at the Nurburgring
Frenchman steals top spot in closing minutes
Charles Pic claimed pole position for tomorrow's feature race at the Nurburgring with a late surge against the run of play in this afternoon's qualifying session: the Frenchman found time on his second set of tyres while his rivals struggled to squeeze his Addax car past Luca Filippi and Romain Grosjean for the top spot.
The Frenchman's best time of 1:40.317 was set with four minutes remaining: Pic's pole came by just 0.076 seconds as he left his rivals floundering in traffic as they tried in vain to better his time before the clock ran out.
Pic was the first man to set a competitive lap, but in short order Sam Bird and then Grosjean bettered his time, the latter driver doing so despite running wide through the gravel at the chicane on his hot lap. Traffic was playing havoc with a number of driver's best efforts though, as Filippi looked set for the top spot with purple sectors 1 and 2 before slowing in the final sector, and Giedo van der Garde losing time similarly.
With most of the field returning to the pits for fresh tyres halfway through the session the Italian took a gamble and stayed out for one more lap, squeezing by Grosjean for the top spot by just 0.011 seconds to the delight of the pitwall at his new team Coloni: it meant that the Italian would have less laps on the second set, but it seemed to be a gamble worth taking.
And so it was, until Pic squeezed onto pole with four minutes remaining: Filippi improved his time next time round, but not by enough, while Grosjean and the others tripped over each other until the chequered flag was shown. Behind the top 3 were Jules Bianchi, van der Garde, Fabio Leimer, Alvaro Parente, Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson and Luiz Razia. But with 17 drivers within a second of pole, tomorrow's race has all the makings of a classic.