There were many aggrieved drivers when Formula 2’s already disrupted wet qualifying session in Melbourne was ended early by Victor Martins crashing.
For many, it was a case of being denied the opportunity to set a flying lap at the latest opportunity as the track was drying, while several were already on laps that were on course to move them up the order.
Martins’ ART Grand Prix team-mate Theo Pourchaire, who qualified 0.614 seconds off pole in second place, reckoned he was “two sectors away from a potential pole position” but was not improving when qualifying stopped.
“My team-mate was fast also,” he said. “There was a lot of contenders for today’s pole. I feel like I was on a very, very good run and, yeah, six tenths away from that pole.
“But I will not complain too much about this one because the first few minutes of the session I struggled a lot. I was like P15, in the traffic, no visibility, taking the wrong lines on the track. But then I started to do some better laps, take the confidence back and I finished P2. It’s good.”
Rodin Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi had “no words” after being 0.263s off poleman Ayumu Iwasa’s benchmark through the first two sectors and not being able to finish a lap that could have put him second, instead qualifying 16th. Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar was 0.16s off Iwasa through the first two sectors as well.
MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger matched Fittipaldi in sector one, and rued “[red flags] cutting short what would have been a top lap”. He qualified 10th, earning sprint race pole, “and with the pace we have I’m ready for some big wave surfing in the feature race”.
PHM Racing by Charouz’s last-placed qualifier Brad Benavides criticised “the poorest management of the qualifying” for his “not representative” five-second gap to pole.
Martins apologised for his crash, and to fellow Alpine junior Jack Doohan who had dominated practice and had topped qualifying before ending the session 15th, but said red flags disadvantaging some drivers more than others “is racing”.
“I’m sorry to them [ART GP] to have done that, and to have brought the red flags in the end, because I think it affected quite a lot of drivers in qualifying. I went a bit over the limit,” said Martins.
“Everyone has been in that situation of Jack, for example. You have two more laps, and you know you have the performance to be back at the top, and then the red flag is coming out.”
He added: “For sure you need to have luck at some point. Also we can say maybe he should have done the lap before. You know what I mean? It’s racing in the end.
“I have been in that situation in the past, and I was kind of putting the excuse on myself I didn’t deliver before. You cannot actually deal with [what] everyone is doing on the track.”