Home News Merhi beats Sainz to race two pole on a drying Hungaroring

Merhi beats Sainz to race two pole on a drying Hungaroring

by Peter Allen
Roberto Merhi

Photo: Eric Vargiolu/DPPI

Formula Renault 3.5 form man Roberto Merhi beat rival and points leader Carlos Sainz to claim pole position for race two at the Hungaroring in qualifying on a drying track.

The first half of the session took place on wet tyres, before the entire field switched to slicks for the second half. A heavy crash for series debutant Esteban Ocon triggered a red flag with five minutes left on the clock, when Jazeman Jaafar had just taken top spot.

Sainz was the first to take advantage of the dryer track and claimed top spot, but was shuffled down to sixth as others improved, with Merhi the fastest. Sainz would return to P1 on his next lap, but was again bettered by Merhi and his own DAMS team-mate Norman Nato.

Those three would be the only ones to beat the chequered flag, and as none of the drivers behind them on track managed to better them, it became a three-way shootout for pole.

Sainz was the first across the line and again claimed top spot, with Nato this time slotting in behind him. Merhi, who has won three of the last four races, then returned to the top, beating Sainz by 0.362 seconds.

Behind the top three, Oliver Rowland was best, 2.4 seconds adrift of pole. Pons drivers Oscar Tunjo and Meindert van Buuren impressively locked out the third row of the grid, relegating Pierre Gasly down to seventh. Luca Ghiotto, Will Buller and Marco Sorensen completed the top ten, with the latter’s Tech 1 team-mate Nicholas Latifi 11th on his first weekend.

Improvements were such in the closing stages that Ocon – having had a best time deleted for causing the red flag – ended up 14 seconds off the pace but will almost certainly be allowed to start.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver? Team Time? Gap Laps?
1 Roberto Merhi Zeta Corse 1:37.400 15
2 Carlos Sainz DAMS 1:37.762 0.362 13
3 Norman Nato DAMS 1:38.105 0.705 14
4 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 1:39.827 2.427 15
5 Oscar Tunjo Pons Racing 1:39.892 2.492 13
6 Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing 1:40.791 3.391 14
7 Pierre Gasly Arden Motorsport 1:41.001 3.601 14
8 Luca Ghiotto International Draco Racing 1:41.168 3.768 15
9 William Buller Arden Motorsport 1:41.724 4.324 13
10 Marco Sorensen Tech 1 Racing 1:41.733 4.333 13
11 Nicholas Latifi Tech 1 Racing 1:41.995 4.595 10
12 Will Stevens Strakka Racing 1:42.200 4.800 14
13 Sergey Sirotkin Fortec Motorsports 1:42.332 4.932 14
14 Roman Mavlanov Zeta Corse 1:42.504 5.104 14
15 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 1:42.527 5.127 16
16 Jazeman Jaafar ISR 1:42.812 5.412 15
17 Cameron Twynham Comtec Racing 1:43.307 5.907 14
18 Matias Laine Strakka Racing 1:43.346 5.946 13
19 Beitske Visser AVF 1:43.441 6.041 15
20 Zoel Amberg AVF 1:43.924 6.524 13
21 Pietro Fantin International Draco Racing 1:43.948 6.548 15
22 Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1:44.661 7.261 16
23 Esteban Ocon Comtec Racing 1:51.724 14.324 10