At the same circuit where he was once dubbed the enfant terrible of junior formula racing, Nobuhara Matsushita has claimed pole position for Saturday’s Formula 2 Championship Feature Race in Azerbaijan in a dramatic qualifying session.

It was the Japanese driver’s second F2 pole and the third for the Carlin Racing team; he sailed to top spot on the starting grid by over four-tenths of a second ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries and championship leader Luca Ghiotto in the UNI-Virtuosi.

The qualifying action was packed into just 20 minutes after the session was interrupted by a red flag almost immediately when Sean Gelael was forced to stop his PREMA Racing entry between Turns 7 and 8 when his front right brake disk caught fire.

It was quickly extinguished by the marshals who then attempted to push the Indonesian’s car off-circuit, but the occasional Toro Rosso F1 test driver managed to bump-start his car and in doing so managed to clip the two marshals who were pushing his car.

Thankfully neither was injured, but officials took a dim view of this and excluded Gelael from the session.

With the track now clear, Jordan King and Nyck de Vries posted the first representative times, before championship leader Ghiotto – who was fastest in the day’s earlier practice session – moved to the top of the time sheets.

The field returned to the track in the final minutes for another one-lap run, with Ghiotto’s provisionally quickest time pipped by de Vries and then by Matsushita, who posted a 1:54.555.

De Vries and Ghiotto completed the top-three, with a large gap back to DAMS’ Sérgio Sette Câmara and King’s MP Motorsport entry. Mick Schumacher (PREMA Racing), Nicholas Latifi (DAMS), Jack Aitken (Campos Racing), Anthoine Hubert (BWT Arden) and Ralph Boschung (Trident Racing) completed the top ten.

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Azerbaijan Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin Motorsport 1:54.555
2. Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 1:54.999 + 0.444
3. Luca Ghiotto UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 1:55.037 + 0.482
4. Sérgio Sette Câmara DAMS 1:55.677 + 1.122
5. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:55.704 + 1.149
6. Mick Schumacher de Prema Racing 1:55.797 + 1.242
7. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:55.835 + 1.280
8. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 1:55.949 + 1.394
9. Anthoine Hubert BWT Arden 1:56.138 + 1.583
10. Ralph Boschung Trident Racing 1:56.153 + 1.598
11. Calum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1:56.215 + 1.660
12. Louis Delétraz Carlin Motorsport 1:56.326 + 1.771
13. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 1:56.454 + 1.899
14. Giuliano Alesi Trident Racing 1:56.555 + 2.000
15. Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 1:56.568 + 2.013
16. Dorian Boccolacci Campos Racing 1:56.653 + 2.098
17. Juan Manuel Correa Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1:56.936 + 2.381
18. Tatiana Calderón BWT Arden 1:58.164 + 3.609
19. Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 2:00.747 + 6.192
EX. Sean Gelael Prema Racing excluded

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Mahaveer Raghunathan will be required to start the Feature Race from the pit lane for failing to follow instructions to visit the FIA weighbridge after Free Practice 1. 
  • Sean Gelael was disqualified from Qualifying for restarting his car while it was being pushed to a safe location by the track marshals, following his stoppage on track which brought out a red flag. Gelael will be permitted to start the Feature Race from the back of the grid.

Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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