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Esteban Ocon clinches pole for first Imola race

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
Photo: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Photo: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

FIA F3 European Championship leader Esteban Ocon will start the first race of the penultimate round of the season at Imola from pole position.

The Frenchman claimed his 15th pole of the season, prevailing in a hectic qualifying session which saw the red flag come out on two separate occasions.

The first suspension of track activity took place with six minutes and 55 seconds remaining on the clock and was caused by Carlin’s Sean Gelael going off at turn five.

The session was restarted in due time but, as most drivers returned to the track and started their respective flyers, they were halted by the colour red again as T-Sport’s Alex Toril was caught out at turn 20.

With the timer frozen at two minutes, there was yet another restart, prompting a late dash of flyers.

Ocon, who led most of the second half of the session, managed to get back out and improve in the final seconds, albeit he’d find himself unchallenged for pole with either of his top laptimes.

The Prema Powerteam driver will be joined on row one by Carlin’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who previously took turns setting fastest laps with Ocon at the halfway point of the qualifying and eventually ended up a safe second.

A late rally from another Carlin driver Jordan King saw the Brit storm into third after the second red flag, demoting his compatriot and stablemate Tom Blomqvist to fourth.

Future Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen had to settle for fifth, with Felix Rosenqvist a further 0.01s off in sixth place, just ahead of Jake Dennis.

Practice pacesetter Antonio Fuoco was eighth, while Lucas Auer and Nicholas Latifi completed the top ten.

Verstappen will start 15th as he serves the second of three ten-place grid penalties for an engine change at the previous round at the Nurburgring.

Qualifying results
Pos. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam 1:36.479 12
2 Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1:36.611 0.132 12
3 Jordan King Carlin 1:36.890 0.411 13
4 Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1:36.973 0.494 11
5 Felix Rosenqvist kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport 1:37.016 0.537 12
6 Jake Dennis Carlin 1:37.031 0.552 12
7 Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam 1:37.125 0.646 12
8 Lucas Auer kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport 1:37.147 0.668 12
9 Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam 1:37.187 0.708 12
10 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1:37.375 0.896 7
11 Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam 1:37.481 1.002 12
12 Felix Serralles Team West-Tec F3 1:37.491 1.012 10
13 Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Racing 1:37.564 1.085 12
14 Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Racing 1:37.592 1.113 11
15 Max Verstappen* Van Amersfoort Racing 1:37.006 0.527 11
16 Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Racing 1:37.659 1.180 11
17 Will Buller Signature 1:37.679 1.200 11
18 Ed Jones Carlin 1:37.758 1.279 13
19 Nick Cassidy ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:37.775 1.296 12
20 Roy Nissany kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport 1:37.925 1.446 13
21 Alexander Toril ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:37.926 1.447 9
22 Spike Goddard ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:38.105 1.626 12
23 Santino Ferrucci Fortec Motorsports 1:38.363 1.884 12
24 Hong Wei Cao Fortec Motorsports 1:38.415 1.936 12
25 Sergio Sette Camara Eurointernational 1:38.609 2.130 11
26 Michele Beretta Eurointernational 1:38.825 2.346 11
27 Chang Wing Chung Team West-Tec F3 1:39.292 2.813 12

* – ten-place grid penalty