DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa took a dramatic pole position on Formula 2’s maiden visit to Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit in tricky wet conditions.
On a drying track, Iwasa managed to post his pole-setting laptime before a heavy crash for ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins brought qualifying to an early close with almost three minutes remaining.
The session started in heavy rain with grip and visibility at a minimum. As the drivers fought for traction, the red flag was flown after just over four minutes with debris across the track after a number of incidents and no timed laps on the board.
Prema’s Ollie Bearman had a spin into the barriers on the curved run between turns 10 and 11, losing his front wing but managing to rejoin. Fellow Ferrari junior Arthur Leclerc also spun without hitting the barriers while Hitech GP’s Jak Crawford lost his front wing in another incident.
Running resumed after a 15-minute interlude, with all 22 cars immediately venturing out of the pitlane and Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan at the front of the train.
Prema’s Frederik Vesti set the initial pace with a 1m50.355s lap, before being usurped by Doohan who was almost a second faster on his second flying lap. Laptimes improves quickly as the track began to dry, and Hitech’s Isack Hadjar and then Trident’s Roman Stanek topped the timesheet before Doohan reclaimed first place on his next lap.
The conditions were still tricky with both Bearman, in a repaired car, and championship leader Ralph Boschung spinning without damage.
MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger briefly demoted Doohan, before Iwasa moved to the front with a 1m46.376s, with Crawford slotting into second 0.3 seconds behind.
As the leaders pitted for a fresh set of treaded tyres, Hadjar and then Martins took turns at the front, as Martins’ team-mate Theo Pourchaire remained outside the top 10, over two seconds off provisional pole.
Even as a dry line emerged, track conditions remained extremely difficult and the low temperatures ensured that the wet tyres took time to come up to speed.
With four minutes remaining, Pourchaire jumped to the front, just 0.004s ahead of Martins, although Iwasa then went fastest by 0.614s.
Before others had a chance to respond, Martins ploughed into the wall on the exit of Turn 5, bringing out session-ending red flags.
Martins qualified third, courtesy of his lap before the pit stops, ahead of Hadjar and Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney. Bearman emerged from an incident-packed session in sixth, with Leclerc and Campos Racing’s Kush Maini in seventh and eighth.
The top 10 was completed by Crawford and Hauger, the latter surviving a late off-track excursion.
Vesti qualified 13th and early pacesetter Doohan will start his home feature race from 15th after dominating practice.
|2||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1m45.732s||+0.614s||12|
|3||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||1m45.736s||+0.618s||12|
|4||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||1m46.037s||+0.919s||13|
|8||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||1m46.530s||+1.412s||12|
|9||Jak Crawford||Hitech GP||1m46.687s||+1.569s||12|
|10||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||1m46.737s||+1.619s||12|
|11||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||1m46.859s||+1.741s||12|
|12||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||1m46.896s||+1.778s||12|
|14||Roy Nissany||PHM by Charouz||1m47.194s||+2.076s||12|
|15||Jack Doohan||Virtuosi Racing||1m47.266s||+2.148s||13|
|18||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||1m47.533s||+2.415s||11|
|20||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||1m47.989s||+2.871s||12|
|21||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||1m47.989s||+2.871s||13|
|22||Brad Benavides||PHM by Charouz||1m50.122s||+5.004s||10|