McLaren F1 tester shines at home
He wanted it so much: Stoffel Vandoorne pocketed his fourth pole position of the season at home at Spa-Francorchamps thanks to a flawless drive and the perfect strategy. The Belgian driver set a laptime of 1:56.278, one tenth better than rookie Oliver Rowland. Sergey Sirotkin completed the top three.
The pitlane opened in sunny and hot conditions with track temperatures rising to forty degrees. Nobuharu Matsushita was the first driver to feed onto the track with the rest of the pack hot on his tail and on Soft Pirelli tyres. On his first push lap, Vandoorne wasted no time to put pressure on his rivals and was able to set the bar high lapping the track in a 1:56.518. Mitch Evans and then Rowland tried to challenge him but ended up four tenths behind the ART man.
Ten minutes into the session, Vandoorne returned to the pits for his second set of tyres whilst the rest of the field remained out on track and were busy trying to improve on their laptimes. Just as most of them re-joined the pits, Vandoorne decided to go back out and while he worked on putting enough heat in his rubbers, the track cleared. As he was ready for his push lap, he enjoyed a perfectly clear circuit and could improve by two tenths leaving Rowland and Evans six tenths behind. All that was left to do for Vandoorne was to return to the pits, climb out of his car and watch from his ART pitwall to see how the rest of the session unfolded.
In the closing stages and with everyone trying hard to improve, Sirotkin moved up from P12 to P2, but his joy was spoiled when Rowland found some extra pace again to edge the Russian out enjoying his best qualifying result in GP2 on his second ever weekend. But one man was even happier: at the chequered flag, Vandoorne celebrated with his team on a job well done and his fourth pole of the season.
Behind the top three, Jordan King finished fourth – his best result this season – ahead of Matsushita, Evans, Pierre Gasly, Rossi, Alex Lynn and Norman Nato.
Spa-Francorchamps – Qualifying Session
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Stoffel Vandoorne
ART Grand Prix
1:56.278
8
2.
Oliver Rowland
MP Motorsport
1:56.425
10
3.
Sergey Sirotkin
Rapax
1:56.513
10
4.
Jordan King
Racing Engineering
1:56.625
11
5.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:56.659
11
6.
Mitch Evans
RUSSIAN TIME
1:56.661
11
7.
Pierre Gasly
DAMS
1:56.701
10
8.
Alexander Rossi
Racing Engineering
1:56.845
11
9.
Alex Lynn
DAMS
1:56.985
10
10.
Norman Nato
Arden International
1:57.019
12
11.
Rio Haryanto
Campos Racing
1:57.143
10
12.
Raffaele Marciello
Trident
1:57.218
11
13.
Robert Visoiu
Rapax
1:57.273
10
14.
Arthur Pic
Campos Racing
1:57.275
9
15.
Nick Yelloly
Hilmer Motorsport
1:57.328
11
16.
Julian Leal
Carlin
1:57.440
11
17.
Richie Stanaway
Status Grand Prix
1:57.528
19
18.
Sergio Canamasas
Daiko Team Lazarus
1:57.560
10
19
Nathanaël Berthon
Daiko Team Lazarus
1:57.615
9
20.
André Negrao
Arden International
1:57.661
11
21.
Daniel De Jong
MP Motorsport
1:57.746
11
22.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:57.809
11
23.
Marlon Stockinger
Status Grand Prix
1:58.136
11
24.
Gustav Malja
Trident
1:58.371
12
25.
Sean Gelael
Carlin
1:58.402
11