Callum IIott increased his advantage on his Formula 2 rivals after taking a fantastic pole position. UNI-Virtuosi’s strategy proved critical by sending him out into clean air in what was an exciting qualifying session
With air temperatures reaching thirty degrees and track peaking at a blazing forty-six degrees qualifying would be a tale of which drivers tyres would be least in agony at the end of the session as well as getting the best track position.
Nikita Mazepin was first to show some of his pace as the Russian’s first flying lap was a 1.30.229 to go top of the timesheets for a matter of seconds as his scruffy lap was easily beaten by countryman Robert Shwartzman who went fastest with a 1.28.862 just over 0.025 seconds ahead of fellow Ferrari junior IIott and Jack Aitken.
IIott was less than impressed with his fellow’s Brit after Aitken appeared to have blocked the championship leader on the exit of turn seven much to IIott’s frustration on the broadcast.
Mick Schumacher was next to show his pace as the German went third fastest with a time of 1.28.889 with the top four separated by just +0.041.
Guanyu Zhou was stuck out for another few laps by his UNI-Virtuosi team who put him out on track to gain perfect track position with the gamble initially working as the Renault junior took second fastest overall as the Chinese driver missed out on provisional pole by +0.014.
Shwartzman’s reign ended at the top by IIott who produced a scintillating lap on a clear track to take provisional pole position by over four-tenths of a second with UNI Virtuosi driver laying down a gauntlet to the rest of the front runners for the remaining eight minutes of the session, although IIott wouldn’t be attempting to improve his time as he got out of his car ending his session.
Felipe Drugovich found plenty of time on his next flying lap to go up to second alongside IIott but the Brazilian’s time at second place ended not long after as Shwartzman pipped him back up to second but was just under two tenths behind IIott and called it a day shortly afterwards.
Zhou was cutting it close to setting one final flying lap as the Chinese driver left the pits with only time for one more flying lap with a clear track in front of him as the field headed to the pitlane.
The Chinese driver was faster than IIott in sector one but the Chinese driver dropped time in sector two and sector three meaning Zhou could only manage third.
The result of Zhou’s near-miss meant that IIott took his fourth Formula 2 pole position ahead of championship rival Shwartzman with Zhou and Drugovich filling out the second row.
Row three would consist of Schumacher and Tsunoda with an all British fourth row as Aitken would start in seventh alongside Dan Ticktum in eighth place.
Mazepin was ninth ahead of Deletraz with Artem Markelov finally having a good qualifying in eleventh place alongside Jehan Daruvala in twelfth.
Second, in the championship, Christian Lundgaard had a painful session as he could only manage fourteenth place alongside Sean Gelael in thirteenth.
Roy Nissany and Marino Sato gave Trident reasons to be cheerful with both drivers starting from row eight with Nissany out qualifying Sato with Pedro Piquet and Nobuharu Matsushita seventeenth and eighteenth.
Marcus Armstrong and Luca Ghiotto both had a forgettable day as they could only manage nineteenth and twentieth with Giuliano Alesi and Guilherme Samaia on the back row.
Can Ilott take the pole to a win and secure another win in the Feature Race??
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