Home Formula 2 Vandoorne takes home GP2 pole at Spa, Rowland shines in second

Vandoorne takes home GP2 pole at Spa, Rowland shines in second

by Peter Allen
Stoffel Vandoorne

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service

Stoffel Vandoorne delivered upon expectations to claim GP2 pole position on home soil at Spa-Francorchamps, with Oliver Rowland getting closest to him on just his second appearance in the series.

After setting the pace in practice, runaway standings leader Vandoorne went straight to the top of the times early in the session, with over four tenths in hand over the competition.

He immediately pitted, and returned to the track at the halfway stage as others were on their way in.

That gave him the entire circuit to himself for a second attempt at a flying lap, and he found time in all three sectors to improve to a 1m56.278s, 0.240s quicker than his previous benchmark and 0.659s clear of the opposition.

Vandoorne returned to the pits for the remainder of the session with his pole position looking secure, but he was quickly given a fright by Alexander Rossi improving upon his first-sector time by three tenths of a second.

The American driver lost time later in the lap however, and it was Sergey Sirotkin who got nearest to challenging Vandoorne, 0.235s down.

Formula Renault 3.5 leader Rowland had been closest to Vandoorne for much of the session, and after being pushed down the order as others improved on their second runs, the Briton then reclaimed second place.

He wound up just 0.147s adrift of Vandoorne, who returned to pole position after missing out at the previous two events.

While Sirotkin took third, Rowland’s fellow Briton Jordan King claimed an impressive fourth place.

Vandoorne’s ART team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita will share row three with Mitch Evans, who has shown improved speed this weekend after recent disappointing form.

Pierre Gasly took seventh, with Rossi down in eighth but still ahead of Hungaroring feature race winner Alex Lynn, who will have to make do with P9 alongside Norman Nato.

Rio Haryanto, the driver closest to Vandoorne in the standings, pulled himself up to 11th at the end of the session.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:56.278 8
2 Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport 1:56.425 0.147 10
3 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 1:56.513 0.235 10
4 Jordan King Racing Engineering 1:56.625 0.347 11
5 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:56.659 0.381 11
6 Mitch Evans Russian Time 1:56.661 0.383 11
7 Pierre Gasly DAMS 1:56.701 0.423 10
8 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1:56.845 0.567 11
9 Alex Lynn DAMS 1:56.985 0.707 10
10 Norman Nato Arden International 1:57.019 0.741 12
11 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 1:57.143 0.865 10
12 Raffaele Marciello Trident 1:57.218 0.940 11
13 Robert Visoiu Rapax 1:57.273 0.995 10
14 Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:57.275 0.997 9
15 Nick Yelloly Hilmer Motorsport 1:57.328 1.050 11
16 Julian Leal Carlin 1:57.440 1.162 11
17 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1:57.528 1.250 10
18 Sergio Canamasas Lazarus 1:57.560 1.282 10
19 Nathanael Berthon Lazarus 1:57.615 1.337 9
20 Andre Negrao Arden International 1:57.661 1.383 11
21 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1:57.746 1.468 11
22 Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:57.809 1.531 11
23 Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1:58.136 1.858 11
24 Gustav Malja Trident 1:58.371 2.093 12
25 Sean Gelael Carlin 1:58.402 2.124 11