ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon takes pole in wet qualifying session
ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon achieved his debut pole in the GP3 category this morning after coming out on top in a very difficult qualifying session which saw mixed conditions. His teammate and Series leader Charles Leclerc posted the second fastest time of the session, but the Monegasque driver will start the race from P7 following a five place grid penalty issued from Spielberg. Trident’s Sandy Stuvik will therefore start from P2 and join Albon in an all Thai front-row later this afternoon.
Dark clouds and cool conditions greeted the paddock for this morning’s thirty minute qualifying session. With a few drops of rain in the air; uncertainty about whether the rain would hammer down meant extra pressure for the drivers to make sure they completed a flying lap.
Campos Racing’s Konstantin Tereschenko was first to set the pace as a few drivers were caught out when the rain started to fall heavier. Nirei Fukuzumi survived a small spin, whilst Trident’s Antonio Fuoco made a short excursion through the gravel. Unfortunately there was a red flag when DAMS’ rookie Kevin Joerg made contact with the barrier at Stowe and his car had to be removed, thus ending the Swiss driver’s session.
At this point Russian Tereschenko sat pretty at the top of the timings. Once the session resumed, Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry was first to leave the pitlane opting to remain on the slick tyres, whilst some drivers including Jake Hughes, Fuoco and Steijn Schothorst chose the wet Pirelli rubber.
With strategy at the fore, the qualifying session proved a tense affair and though further rain fell, the slick tyre was producing the better results. Parry shot into P1 by 6s, as the times fell further each lap , Leclerc and the Brit swapped the top spot several times before Arden International’s Jack Aitken jumped into provisional pole. Seconds later his teammate Jake Dennis bettered his time to lead an all British one-two.
Ferrari Driver Academy’s Antonio Fuoco found some extra pace to go P1 by two tenths before Hughes lapped 0.001s faster than the Italian. Parry returned to the head of the timesheet with a half a second advantage but his time was deleted due to track limits. Jenzer Motorsport’s new recruit Arjun Maini was impressive to clock the quickest time in the final stages until Albon completed a flier, to lap over 1s faster than his rivals.
There was a second red flag after contact was made between Leclerc and Santino Ferrucci. Damage was done to both cars with the red flag brought out due to the American stopping on track with a puncture, whilst Leclerc limped back to the pitlane. The session resumed with two minutes left on the clock with Albon holding on to enjoy his first pole position and bag the four points on offer. The Thai is now just one point adrift of Leclerc in the title batter. Stuvik produced his best qualifying result in the Series and will line-up in second, ahead of a fantastic debut from the Indian driver Maini who starts third.
Matevos Isaakyan, Hughes, Fuoco, Leclerc (5 place grid penalty), Fukuzumi, Ralph Boschung and Giuliano Alesi will start from the first ten places as Akash Nandy also has a five place grid drop following the Austrian event.
This afternoon’s 20 lap race starts at 16:20 (GMT+1).
Qualifying*
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
1:47.348
9
2.
Charles Leclerc*
ART Grand Prix
1:48.098
9
3.
Sandy Stuvik
Trident
1:48.290
10
4.
Arjun Maini
Jenzer Motorsport
1:48.393
12
5.
Matevos Isaakyan
Koiranen GP
1:48.539
13
6.
Jake Hughes
DAMS
1:48.567
13
7.
Antonio Fuoco
Trident
1:48.568
12
8.
Akash Nandy*
Jenzer Motorsport
1:48.658
12
9.
Nirei Fukuzumi
ART Grand Prix
1:48.664
11
10.
Ralph Boschung
Koiranen GP
1:48.674
12
11.
Giuliano Alesi
Trident
1:48.749
12
12.
Matthew Parry
Koiranen GP
1:48.758
14
13.
Jake Dennis
Arden International
1:48.831
11
14.
Jack Aitken
Arden International
1:48.855
11
15.
Alex Palou
Campos Racing
1:49.053
11
16.
Konstantin Tereschenko
Campos Racing
1:49.138
12
17.
Santino Ferrucci
DAMS
1:49.269
12
18.
Steijn Schothorst
Campos Racing
1:49.358
12
19.
Tatiana Calderon
Arden International
1:49.733
11
20.
Nyck de Vries
ART Grand Prix
1:49.934
11
21.
Artur Janosz
Trident
1:50.005
12
.
Kevin Joerg
DAMS
1
*Charles Leclerc has a five place grid penalty after Spielberg Race 2
*Akash Nandy also has a five place grid penalty after Spielberg Race 2