GTE-Pro drivers are expecting Ferrari’s unusually large advantage in qualifying at Silverstone to have been reduced in the race on Sunday, with a close battle between all three manufacturers on the cards.
The closest car to AF Corse’s pair of Ferrari 488 GTE Evos, which locked out the class’ front row in qualifying, was the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE shared by Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin.
Their qualifying time was still 0.821 seconds off the combined effort from polesitters James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, while the quickest Porsche was almost nine-tenths off the lead Ferrari.
“I think it was the maximum we could do, best of the rest after Ferrari,” Lynn told Sportscar365. “They’re looking very strong. I’m happy with best of the rest.
“It was probably what I expected after [Friday] morning. Before we came here, I didn’t expect that, but it was very clear right from the off that they were very fast.
“Even the Ferrari [GTE-Am] time in FP3 was quicker than us in qualifying, which I think shows the true pace of what the Ferrari is at the moment.”
Despite AF Corse’s session-topping pace so far, Lynn is confident in both the Aston Martin Vantage GTE’s improved race pace and Porsche’s ability to create a tight battle between all three manufacturers.
“I actually think this year we are a bit faster in the race pace than we are in qualifying, with the new tires,” he explained.
“We’ve taken a big leap forward with our tire degradation. I think we’ve come a very long way with tire development, so we’re more confident going into the race.
“Hopefully, fingers crossed, we should be even more competitive tomorrow.
“[Porsche will] be there. We’ve got three cool manufacturers and top-level teams, so nothing’s going to be given away for free.”
Over at Ferrari, Molina echoes Lynn’s expectation that the class will tighten up tomorrow.
“It looks like it was a big gap, but I’m sure tomorrow will be much closer,” he told Sportscar365. “We had a really good qualifying for both cars.
“Let’s see tomorrow in the race, but the qualifying was probably better than I expected.
“I’m pretty sure that the Porsche guys will appear somehow and the Astons have also showed that they had really good pace yesterday.
“It will be a tight competition and we hope that we are ready for that.”
Gianmaria Bruni, meanwhile, said he could have put in a better qualifying lap for the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR if he hadn’t had a spin and subsequent puncture on his second and final flying lap.
The Italian recovered from damage caused by the puncture but lost a chance to put in another lap before handing over to Richard Lietz.
“I think we could have been closer, for sure,” he told Sportscar365.
“The car was running well. I think we were on a good pace. I was expecting to be in the top two, and I did only one [lap].
“I’m sure the second lap could have been much better but we’ll see tomorrow.”