McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne has claimed his third pole position in a row in today’s exciting qualifying session at Sochi Autodrom. With an identical laptime of 1:45.002, Arthur Pic takes P2 ahead of Vandoorne’s teammate Takuya Izawa.
Vandoorne set the pace early on until Mitch Evans went top only to be bettered by the Belgian a few minutes later. Pic was up next for the top spot, but Izawa was on fine form as well: the Japanese was the first man to dip under 1m46s. Series leader Jolyon Palmer found some clean air however to sit pretty at the top of the timesheet halfway through the session and before the end of the field’s first stints.
The final minutes saw an intense battle for pole position. Pic looked determined to claim a second pole this season when he clocked a laptime of 1:45.552. The chequered flag dropped but the Frenchman had one last chance to improve on his laptime and secure P1. Izawa was also on his final attempt. He did improve on his personal best, but Pic’s time remained better so the Japanese was then second.
Vandoorne was the last man to be able to challenge Pic. The ART man put his head down and was able to go top as he crossed the finish line hoping he had done the job and that Pic would not be able to go faster. The Frenchman lit all his sectors in green, but when his lap was done his identical laptime with Vandoorne meant the Belgian would take pole today.
Behind the top 3, Palmer finished fourth and is in a good position to fight for the win tomorrow. Raffaele Marciello finished fifth ahead of Evans, Kimiya Sato, Stefano Coletti, André Negrao and Felipe Nasr, the latter will need to have a strong result tomorrow in order to keep his title hopes alive.
Sochi – Qualifying Session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:45.002 13
2. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:45.002 11
3. Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 1:45.675 12
4. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:45.685 12
5. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineerign 1:45.772 14
6. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:45.813 13
7. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:46.102 13
8. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:46.120 12
9. André Negrao Arden International 1:46.173 13
10. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:46.210 13
11. Pierre Gasly* Caterham Racing 1:46.377 14
12. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:46.411 13
13. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:46.497 12
14. Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:46.554 15
15. Rio Haryanto Caterham Racing 1:46.560 12
16. Marco Sorensen MP Motorsport 1:46.628 13
17. Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:46.651 13
18. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:46.788 13
19 Julian Leal Carlin 1:46.995 10
20. Tio Ellinas Rapax 1:47.006 13
21. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:47.025 13
22. Rene Binder Arden International 1:47.091 10
23. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:47.386 13
24. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:47.550 13
25. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:47.611 11
26. Sergio Campana Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:47.795 13
*Will lose five grid places following a penalty picked up in Monza Sprint Race