The #8 of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin was just 0.178secs away from pole position as it took second, while the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima was close behind in third, 0.283secs off.
This season’s qualifying format requires two drivers from each car to set a minimum of two flying laps each. The grid is decided by the combined average of each driver’s fastest two laps.
Kazuki took the wheel of the #7 for the start of qualifying, completing two incredibly consistent flying laps, within 0.001secs of each other, before handing over to Nicolas.
Sébastien was the opening driver for #8 before Anthony took the second stint, keeping up the pressure on pole position.
Although all sessions so far have taken place in dry conditions, forecasts suggest a high chance of rain for tomorrow’s race, which begins at 11am local time.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 1st (1min 27.117secs), 23 laps
Qualifying: 3rd (1min 26.860secs average)
Nicolas Lapierre: “Kazuki did a very nice job but I caught some traffic on the last two laps. I am a little bit disappointed with that because it could have been a little bit better. In the end it was a positive session and the car is working really well around here. We know we have the consistency for the long runs so we are quite confident and positive. The weather will be very important; that will be the key point for the race. It was very close today and it will be an exciting race.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “It was a good qualifying session for us and I am happy with my lap times. It was very close today not just between the two TS030 HYBRIDs but also for pole position. So it looks like it will be another tight race, just like last year. Today the car felt good and the lap times are very competitive. This is the best so far this year for the whole team. Now we want to build on that tomorrow when I think we will be in a good position.”
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Stéphane Sarrazin)
Free practice 3: 4th (1min 27.536secs), 31 laps
Qualifying: 2nd (1min 26.755secs average)
Anthony Davidson: “It is always disappointing to just miss out on pole especially when it’s your home race. But that was the closest we have been all season by a long way so I am really happy, particularly with the car. The set-up changes we made tweaked it to perfection and both Sébastien and I are really happy with the balance; it was the best it’s been. All things point to a good race tomorrow if it’s dry but if it’s wet it is an unknown circumstance for everyone.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It was a good qualifying and I am happy with my laps. Of course you can always find a little bit of time but I think we did a good job finding the right set-up on the car. We have not been so close to Audi in qualifying this year. We are more competitive than before compared to them so this is encouraging. It bodes very well for the race but we need to wait to see what the weather brings tomorrow.”