McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne has snatched his first GP2 pole position on home soil in today’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps. The Belgian ace denied Series leader Jolyon Palmer from the top spot at the chequered flag. Mitch Evans took third spot.
The weather conditions were still fresh when the pitlane opened and the drivers fed onto the track on Pirelli Medium tyres. Already fast in this morning’s practice session, Johnny Cecotto quickly topped the standings, dipping under 1m58s, but Palmer was able to find a clear lap to break the 1m57s barrier. The Briton clocked in a laptime of 1:56.857 – five tenths quicker than Vandoorne then in P2.
Another rookie looked hungry for glory in the name of Raffaele Marciello: the mighty Italian improved on his first set of tyres to move up to second with a laptime of 1:57.237. Halfway through the session, the drivers returned to the pits for a fresh pair of tyres. They rejoined the track with ten minutes left on the clock. This morning’s fastest man Julian Leal was on a mission and improved on the first two sectors, but he hit traffic in the final sector thus reducing his efforts to naught.
In the dying minutes, Palmer seemed to have done enough to claim another pole position this season, but Vandoorne put his head down and found some extra pace to edge the Briton out of the top spot by 0.018s. At the chequered flag, Evans took third spot ahead of Marciello, Cecotto, Leal, Nathanaël Berthon, Simon Trummer, Marco Sorensen and Stéphane Richelmi.
With the weather forecast being uncertain and the demands of the Belgian track leaving no room for driver error, tomorrow’s feature race promises to be a cracker.
Spa-Francorchamps – Qualifying Session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:56.839 10
2. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:56.857 8
3. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:57.057 11
4. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1:57.237 13
5. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:57.244 12
6. Julian Leal Carlin 1:57.271 13
7. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:57.272 12
8. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:57.284 10
9. Marco Sorensen MP Motorsport 1:57.389 11
10. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:57.448 10
11. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:57.475 11
12. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:57.516 10
13. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:57.706 11
14. Tom Dillmann EQQ8 Caterham Racing 1:57.770 11
15. Conor Daly Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:57.788 12
16. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:57.844 11
17. Rene Binder Arden International 1:57.851 12
18. Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:57.875 13
19 Rio Haryanto EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:57.974 12
20. André Negrao* Arden International 1:58.002 12
21. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax 1:58.005 12
22. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:58.185 10
23. Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:58.218 13
24. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:58.295 12
25. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:58.470 10
Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 2:40.364 2
*André Negrao will lose five grid places following a penalty picked up after Budapest Sprint Race.