Home Formula 2 Vandoorne claims third straight GP2 pole after Pic dead heat

Vandoorne claims third straight GP2 pole after Pic dead heat

by Peter Allen
Stoffel Vandoorne

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service

Stoffel Vandoorne claimed his third consecutive pole position in GP2 in Sochi as the championship’s maiden qualifying session in Russia came down to a thrilling dead heat between him and Arthur Pic.

Pic had gone to top spot with a couple of minutes remaining in the session, but his time was bettered by Vandoorne on the Belgian’s final flying lap.

Pic fought back though and matched Vandoorne’s time to a thousandth of a second, but will have to settle for second on the grid having set his time later – the pair therefore repeat the front row of the grid from the last round at Monza.

Vandoorne and the ART Grand Prix team dedicated their success to Jules Bianchi by showing off the #ForzaJules decal on Vandoorne’s helmet to the cameras. Bianchi spent four years driving for ART during his time in F3 and GP2.

Vandoorne’s team-mate Takuya Izawa put in a magnificent performance throughout the session, clearly benefiting from the level playing field created by racing on a new circuit having been at a disadvantage on the European tracks this year. He led the times for a while during the first half and then put in a late improvement to seal P3.

Championship leader Jolyon Palmer was another in the fight for pole, and led for some time during the middle of the session, but he would have to make do with fourth. Nonetheless, his main rival Felipe Nasr could only manage tenth, and Palmer only needs to outscore the Brazilian by eight points this weekend to wrap up the title.

Raffaele Marciello was fifth ahead of Mitch Evans, who appeared to have the pace for pole at the home event of his Russian Time team but failed to put a clean lap together.

Pic’s Campos team-mate Kimiya Sato was seventh ahead of Stefano Coletti, Andre Negrao and Nasr, who was tapped into a spin at the final corner by Coletti early in the session when the Carlin driver slowed.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:45.402 13
2 Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:45.402 11
3 Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 1:45.675 0.273 12
4 Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:45.685 0.283 12
5 Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1:45.772 0.370 14
6 Mitch Evans Russian Time 1:45.813 0.411 13
7 Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:46.102 0.700 13
8 Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:46.120 0.718 12
9 Andre Negrao Arden International 1:46.173 0.771 13
10 Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:46.210 0.808 13
11 Pierre Gasly EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:46.377 0.975 14
12 Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:46.411 1.009 13
13 Nathanael Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:46.497 1.095 12
14 Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:46.554 1.152 15
15 Rio Haryanto EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:46.560 1.158 12
16 Marco Sorensen MP Motorsport 1:46.628 1.226 13
17 Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:46.651 1.249 13
18 Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:46.788 1.386 13
19 Julian Leal Carlin 1:46.995 1.593 10
20 Tio Ellinas Rapax 1:47.006 1.604 13
21 Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1:47.025 1.623 13
22 Rene Binder Arden International 1:47.091 1.689 10
23 Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:47.386 1.984 13
24 Simon Trummer Rapax 1:47.550 2.148 13
25 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1:47.611 2.209 11
26 Sergio Campana Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:47.795 2.393 13