McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries has survived a tense Formula 2 qualifying session at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps to claim his first Formula 2 Championship pole position for Saturday’s Feature Race.

With a seven-kilometre circuit taking almost two minutes to lap a full speed, the field was effectively restricted to just two runs apiece with only flying lap in each outing.

Championship leader George Russell held provisional pole position in his Arden entry after the field’s first flying laps, holding a 0.2-second advantage over title rival Lando Norris and Carlin teammate Sergio Sette Câmara.

De Vries – who claimed a sensational wet/dry Feature Race victory last time out at the Hungaroring – had his first flying lap time disallowed by the FIA Stewards for exceeding track limits. As the rest of the field returned to the pits to change tyres and prepare for a second run, the Dutch youngster trook advantage of a clear track and clocked a second flying lap which moved him into top spot by almost half a second.

By running out of sequence, however, he did not have enough time to return to the pits and get turned around for another run which would leave him vulnerable to being jumped.

A late yellow flag was caused by Antonio Fuoco being forced to stop his Charouz Racing System entry in the final two minutes of the session. De Vries’ overall lead, however, did not appear under threat as Russell was only able to better his first lap time by five-hundredths of a second.

The overall series leader still ensured he would start Saturday’s Feature Race from the front row, while Sette Câmara and Campos Racing’s Luca Ghiotto secured the second row of the grid.

Norris encountered further dramas when he too was forced to stop his car late in the session, contributing to him being demoted to fifth on the grid.

Hungary Sprint Race winner Alexander Albon qualified sixth-fastest for DAMS, with Nirei Fukuzumi (BWT Arden) sandwiched in eighth on the timesheets between Charouz teammates Fuoco and Louis Delétraz. Artem Markelov completed the top-ten for RUSSIAN TIME.

The final row of the grid was locked out by the series’ newcomers. Alessio Lorandi, who made his maiden F2 appearance last time out in Hungary, was 19th-fastest for Trident ahead of this weekend’s debutante Dorian Boccolacci (MP Motorsport).

Saturday’s 25-lap Feature Race gets underway at 16:45 local time (GMT +2).

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Belgium – Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:56.054
2. George Russell ART Grand Prix 1:56.457 + 0.403
3. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 1:56.594 + 0.540
4. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 1:56.611 + 0.557
5. Lando Norris Carlin Motorsport 1:56.723 + 0.669
6. Alexander Albon DAMS 1:56.878 + 0.824
7. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 1:56.930 +0.876
8. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 1:57.169 + 1.115
9. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 1:57.183 + 1.129
10. Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:57.266 + 1.212
11. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 1:57.394 + 1.340
12. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:57.515 + 1.461
13. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 1:57.596 + 1.542
14. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 1:57.635 + 1.581
15. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 1:57.718 + 1.664
16. Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 1:57.754 + 1.700
17. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 1:57.773 + 1.719
18 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:57.878 + 1.824
19. Alessio Lorandi Trident Racing 1:58.174 + 2.120
20. Dorian Boccolacci es MP Motorsport 1:58.338 + 2.284

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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