Mercedes protégé George Russell has won pole position at the Formula 2 Championship’s Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring.
The ART Grand Prix driver, who claimed pole position and victory in the Feature Race last time out at Paul Ricard, dominated Friday practice and continued that form into qualifying where he outpaced championship leader Lando Norris by almost a quarter of a second.
His penultimate flying lap proved good enough to claim pole, but he went even quicker on his final outing and posted a 1:13.451.
Norris claimed a front row start for Saturday’s Feature Race – the first time he has done so since the season’s second round in Azerbaijan – where he will be desperate to reignite his championship challenge. Having led from the outset, the Englishman’s championship lead has been slashed to just nine points thanks to Russell claiming bonus points for his pole position.
Norris’ final flying lap showed the desperation that has been a concerning sign of late; he beached his Carlin in the gravel at Turn 9. His teammate Sergio Sette Câmara qualified third-fastest, while Russell’s ART teammate Jack Aitken was fourth-fastest.
Arjun Maini’s bitter complaints about his engine after an uncompetitive showing in France saw Formula 2 officials change the power unit in his Trident machine between practice and qualifying. The Indian driver’s concerns may prove justified, as he qualified a career-best fifth-fastest.
Starting alongside him is Maximilian Günther – who also had a career-best showing for Arden – while Louis Delétraz (Charouz Racing System), Alexander Albon (DAMS), Nyck de Vries (PREMA Racing) and Tadasuke Makino (RUSSIAN TIME) rounded out the top ten.
Albon and fellow championship frontrunner Artem Markelov both had untidy qualifying sessions. While Albon was able to recover from a trip through the gravel to finish eighth-fastest (marking the first time he has not qualified in the top-three all year), Markelov’s one-lap inconsistencies continued. The Russian driver will start from the penultimate row for Saturday’s race and will need to have another blinding charge through the field to keep his title aspirations alive.
Markelov will have some company and experience in the form of Albon’s teammate Nicholas Latifi, who will start from the back row of the grid after another poor showing. The Canadian was the star of last year’s Feature Race with a burn from the stern drive to challenge the eventual winner Charles Leclerc for victory.
Saturday’s 40-lap Feature Race takes place at 16:45 local time (GMT +2).
|2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Austria – Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||1:13.541|
|2.||Lando Norris||Carlin Motorsport||1:13.779||+ 0.238|
|3.||Sergio Sette Câmara||Carlin Motorsport||1:13.823||+ 0.282|
|4.||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||1:13.961||+ 0.420|
|5.||Arjun Maini||Trident Racing||1:13.999||+ 0.458|
|6.||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden International||1:14.014||+ 0.473|
|7.||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||1:14.104||+ 0.563|
|8.||Alexander Albon||DAMS||1:14.115||+ 0.574|
|9.||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:14.171||+ 0.630|
|10.||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||1:14.201||+ 0.660|
|11.||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||1:14.309||+ 0.768|
|12.||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||1:14.323||+ 0.782|
|13.||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||1:14.330||+0.789|
|14.||Santino Ferrucci||Trident Racing||1:14.334||+ 0.793|
|15.||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:14.363||+ 0.822|
|16.||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||1:14.389||+ 0.848|
|17.||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden International||1:14.400||+ 0.859|
|18.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:14.589||+ 1.048|
|19.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||1:14.700||+ 1.159|
|20.||Roy Nissany||Campos Vexatec Racing||1:15.436||+ 1.895|
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship
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