George Russell claimed an important pole position for Saturday’s Formula 2 Championship Feature Race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The Mercedes junior driver earned four vital championship points in doing so and extended his slim championship lead over rival Lando Norris – who qualified seventh-fastest – to nine points.

Russell was desperate to bounce back quickly after what he described as his “toughest weekend of the year” last time out at Spa-Francorchamps, where Norris ate into his overall championship lead after two poor races.

His final qualifying run saw him post an ultimately unbeatable time of 1:31.546 to secure pole position, although he came close to being usurped by Norris’ Carlin teammate Sergio Sette Câmara. The Brazilian – who has not qualified outside the top-five since the Paul Ricard round in May – came up just short by 0.054 seconds.

Alexander Albon, who remains an outside contender for the overall championship, put in an important qualifying display to qualify his DAMS entry third-fastest. The Anglo-Thai driver will be joined by Russian Time’s Artem Markelov on the second row of the grid, while Albon’s teammate Nicholas Latifi – buoyed by his Sprint Race win last time out at Spa-Francorchamps – qualified fifth-fastest.

Ferrari academy driver Antonio Fuoco was the best-placed of the grid’s three local drivers, qualifying his Charouz Racing System entry sixth-fastest. He will, however, take a three-place grid penalty.

The top-ten qualifiers were completed by the aforementioned Norris, Arjun Maini (Trident), Luca Ghiotto (Campos Racing) and Louis Delétraz (Charouz).

Nyck de Vries, the winner of the last two Feature Races in Hungary and Belgium, had a nightmare session and could only qualify eleventh-fastest. The Dutch driver only managed three laps in practice earlier in the day when his PREMA Theodore Racing car was struck with a throttle sensor failure, and the lack of track time clearly hurt him in qualifying.

MP Motorsport newcomer Dorian Boccolacci suffered with gearbox problems and could not set a representative time inside 107% of Russell’s pole time, however the Frenchman will be permitted to start the race.

Saturday’s 30-lap Feature Race gets underway at 16:45 local time (GMT +2).

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Italy – Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. George Russell ART Grand Prix 1:31.546
2. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 1:31.600 + 0.054
3. Alexander Albon DAMS 1:31.889 + 0.343
4. Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:31.922 + 0.376
5. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:32.021 + 0.475
6. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 1:32.159 +0.613
7. Lando Norris Carlin Motorsport 1:32.191 + 0.645
8. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 1:32.248 + 0.702
9. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 1:32.346 + 0.800
10. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 1:32.407 + 0.861
11. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:32.566 + 1.020
12. Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 1:32.681 + 1.135
13. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 1:32.735 + 1.189
14. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 1:32.750 + 1.204
15. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 1:32.801 + 1.255
16. Alessio Lorandi Trident Racing 1:32.803 + 1.257
17. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:32.913 + 1.367
18. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 1:32.965 + 1.419
19. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 1:33.496 + 1.950
DNQ. Dorian Boccolacci es MP Motorsport 1:48.586 + 17.040

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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