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Charles Leclerc takes eighth F2 pole at Jerez

by Ida Wood

Photo: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

Charles Leclerc took his eighth pole of the Formula 2 season at Jerez, moving him ever closer to the title.

The Monegasque racer has now equalled the record tally of poles that Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly achieved when F2 was known as the GP2 series.

Luca Ghiotto was Leclerc?s closest rival during the qualifying session, and the pace of the Italian actually led to Leclerc changing his strategy to do another run on the soft Pirelli tyres late in the session.

?We did this strategy [reacting to Ghiotto] because here in Jerez it?s quite difficult to overtake,? explained Leclerc.

?We want to win the championship this weekend so we have maximised our chances by doing a good qualifying to be well placed in Race 1. Now we have to work on the start and make sure we keep it tomorrow.?

An end margin of over a quarter of a second was the result of his final run, and the four points that come with it puts Leclerc 63 ahead of DAMS driver Oliver Rowland going into the feature race.

Rowland could only manage fourth on the grid, over six tenths behind Leclerc, and to prevent the championship leader from winning the title he will need to be outscored by no more than two points in the race; not possible if Leclerc wins from pole.

Between the front row pair and Rowland was Sergio Sette Camara, who but in his best ever qualifying result for MP Motorsport.

Artem Markelov, who like Russian Time team-mate Ghiotto still has an outside chance of winning the title, qualified fifth, ahead of ART Grand Prix team-mates Alexander Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita, Racing Engineering?s Nyck de Vries and Nicholas Latifi; the most distant of the title contenders.

This quintet was covered by 55 thousands of a second, and a further five drivers were within a second of Leclerc.

F2 debutant Alex Palou was 11th for Campos Racing, over a second faster than this team-mate, while returnee Rene Binder ended 17th for Rapax.

Qualifying results
1 Charles Leclerc Prema 1m24.682s
2 Luca Ghiotto Russian Time +0.260s
3 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport +0.575s
4 Oliver Rowland DAMS +0.634s
5 Artem Markelov Russian Time +0.740s
6 Alexander Albon ART +0.744s
7 Nobuharu Matsushita ART +0.768s
8 Nyck de Vries Racing Engineering +0.788s
9 Nicholas Latifi DAMS +0.795s
10 Norman Nato Arden +0.901s
11 Alex Palou Campos +0.918s
12 Louis Deletraz Rapax +0.945s
13 Santino Ferrucci Trident +0.950s
14 Jordan King MP Motorsport +0.971s
15 Antonio Fuoco Prema +1.057s
16 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering +1.234s
17 Rene Binder Rapax +1.439s
18 Nabil Jeffri Trident +1.466s
19 Sean Gelael Arden +1.481s
20 Ralph Boschung +1.965s

Championship Standings
1 Leclerc 222 2 Rowland 159 3 Markelov 152 4 Ghiotto 150 5 Latifi 132 6 Matsushita 115 7 de Vries 96 8 Nato 91 9 Fuoco 77 10 Albon 66