Japanese driver grabs top spot at the flag
Nirei Fukuzumi has stolen pole with a last gasp lap in this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Circuito de Jerez, grabbing the top spot and stopping the clock at 1:30.678 after the flag dropped to claim his second pole position of the season ahead of teammates and title rivals Jack Aitken and George Russell.
The session opened under gloriously sunny conditions, with everyone running straight out on track to get the fight underway. Dorian Boccolacci set the pace straight out of the box before running wide and tagging the barriers at turn 10 before returning to the pitlane to check for damage, with a string of drivers sharing the top spot: Raoul Hyman, Marcos Siebert, Giuliano Alesi, Arjun Maini, Tatiana Calderon, Alessio Lorandi and Dan Ticktum all spent time in P1 before the ART machine got underway.
Aitken annexed the top of the timesheets just before halfway through the session, with Russell, Anthoine Hubert and Fukuzumi slotting in behind the Briton, and as everyone returned to the pits the question was would anyone be able to improve on their second set of tyres.
Everyone returned to the track with 5 minutes remaining, and Russell set the target, grabbing P1 as everyone tried to pry it from his grip. As the flag dropped it looked as though the Series leader had done enough for pole, but first Aitken and then Fukuzumi put in a pair of astonishing laps on an emptying circuit to push their teammate back to the second row.
Behind him Ticktum had done enough to break up an all-ART top 4, pushing Hubert back to P5 ahead of Lorandi, Boccolacci, Kari, Calderon and Steijn Schothorst in another tight session which saw the top 12 separated by just one second. The fight for tomorrow’s Race 1, already so important for the shape of the championship, looks set to be a scorcher.
Provisional Qualifying Classification
|1||Nirei FUKUZUMI||ART Grand Prix||1:30.678||—||13|
|2||Jack AITKEN||ART Grand Prix||1:30.847||0.169||13|
|3||George RUSSELL||ART Grand Prix||1:30.889||0.211||13|
|5||Anthoine HUBERT||ART Grand Prix||1:31.140||0.463||13|
|6||Alessio LORANDI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:31.334||0.656||13|
|8||Niko KARI||Arden International||1:31.404||0.727||13|
|10||Steijn SCHOTHORST||Arden International||1:31.507||0.829||14|
|14||Julien FALCHERO||Campos Racing||1:31.707||1.029||12|
|15||Marcos SIEBERT||Campos Racing||1:31.707||1.029||13|
|16||Leonardo PULCINI||Arden International||1:31.726||1.048||13|
|17||Raoul HYMAN||Campos Racing||1:31.984||1.306||14|
|18||Juan Manuel CORREA||Jenzer Motorsport||1:32.019||1.341||13|
|19||Arjun MAINI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:32.139||1.461||15|