George Russell needs to finish Saturday evening’s Feature Race in no lower than eighth place to guarantee himself the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship crown after claiming pole position in his final qualifying appearance before he becomes a Williams Formula 1 driver next year.

The ART Grand Prix driver won his fifth pole position of his rookie Formula 2 season, with the four championship points earned for it extending his margin over his sole title rival Alexander Albon – who could only manage eigith-fastest in the session – to 41 points. With a maximum of 44 points available over this weekend’s two races, only disaster could deny the Briton a richly deserved championship title.

McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries held provisional pole position for PREMA Theodore Racing midway through the qualifying session ahead of Albon’s DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi – both drivers ran an alternate strategy by posting their flying laps in the mid-session lull when the majority of the field pits for new tyres.

Russell returned to the track in the final minutes and posted a 1:49.251, eclipsing de Vries’ time by two-tenths of a second.

Artem Markelov showed vastly improved qualifying form and finished fourth-fastest in his Russian Time entry ahead of Russell’s teammate Jack Aitken, who had his best qualifying performance since July’s round at Budapest in what has been a largely a disappointing season.

Newly-appointed Haas F1 Team junior driver Louis Delétraz was sixth-fastest for Charouz Racing System ahead of McLaren-bound Lando Norris (Carlin). With Albon a frustrated eighth-fastest, the top ten was completed by Markelov and Norris’ respective teammates Tadasuke Makino and Sergio Sette Câmara.

Red Bull F1 junior driver Dan Ticktum qualified a solid 14th-fastest in his maiden Formula 2 Championship outing, outpacing BWT Arden teammate Nirei Fukuzumi by four-tenths of a second.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Abu Dhabi – Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. George Russell ART Grand Prix 1:49.251
2. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:49.541 + 0.290
3. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:49.647 + 0.396
4. Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:49.869 + 0.618
5. Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 1:49.946 + 0.695
6. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 1:50.038 + 0.787
7. Lando Norris Carlin Motorsport 1:50.059 + 0.808
8. Alexander Albon DAMS 1:50.155 + 0.904
9. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 1:50.180 + 0.929
10. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 1:50.187 + 0.936
11. Niko Kari fi MP Motorsport 1:50.375 + 1.124
12. Roberto Merhi Campos Vexatec Racing 1:50.513 + 1.262
13. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 1:50.522 +1.271
14. Dan Ticktum uk BWT Arden International 1:50.580 + 1.329
15. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1:50.812 + 1.561
16. Alessio Lorandi Trident Racing 1:50.855 + 1.604
17. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 1:50.892 + 1.641
18. Dorian Boccolacci es MP Motorsport 1:51.037 + 1.786
19. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 1:51.048 + 1.797
20. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 1:51.597 + 2.346

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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