Russell strikes back for 4th pole; Maini takes P5: GP3 series

By | November 24, 2017
George Russell pulled out a champion’s drive in this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Yas Marina Circuit: the Briton defied the difficulty of jumping from GP3 to F1 with Force India and back today with a stunning last lap to claim his fourth pole position of the season (and rounding out 2017 by ensuring that ART Grand Prix grabbed every pole of the year) by three tenths from Arden International teammates Leonardo Pulcini and Niko Kari.
The new champion’s best time of 1:54.751 came after the chequered flag had dropped: Russell was the last man in a series of quickest laps to ensure that his rivals realised he will not be taking this weekend easily just because the pressure of the championship is over.
The track opened to hot and sunny conditions, with all of the drivers running straight out to take advantage of the F1 rubber from their recent free practice. Russell, who had helped to lay down some of it, was taking the early part of the session easy as his rivals squabbled over the top spot: Dorian Boccolacci, Arjun Maini and Dan Ticktum all spent time on the top spot before returning to the pits, with Russell staying out one lap later and running green in sector 1 and purple in sector 2 before ominously aborting the lap as he returned to the pits, confident he had more to come.
With 5 minutes remaining the drivers were swapping best times in the various sectors as they warmed their tyres for the push to the flag: Pulcini and then Russell claimed P1 with a few minutes remaining, then pulled back for a slow lap before pushing again on the last tour. Maini ran wide out of the marina section and lost his chance while up front Kari topped the timesheets before being usurped by teammate Pulcini and then Russell as the chequered flag dropped, and the session was over.
Behind the top 3 Ticktum just missed out again for P4, but finished ahead of Maini, Nirei Fukuzumi, Boccolacci (who lost time in sector 2 and missed his chance to shine), Raoul Hyman, Anthoine Hubert and Alessio Lorandi were among the 12 drivers within a second of the top spot, all of whom will be looking to unleash their speed in tomorrow’s Race 1.
Provisional Qualifying Classification
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
George RUSSELL
ART Grand Prix
1:54.751
12
2.
Leonardo PULCINI
Arden International
1:55.073
12
3.
Niko KARI
Arden International
1:55.157
11
4.
Daniel TICKTUM
DAMS
1:55.289
12
5.
Arjun MAINI
Jenzer Motorsport
1:55.466
11
6.
Nirei FUKUZUMI
ART Grand Prix
1:55.484
12
7.
Dorian BOCCOLACCI
Trident
1:55.533
12
8.
Raoul HYMAN
Campos Racing
1:55.583
11
9.
Anthoine HUBERT
ART Grand Prix
1:55.594
12
10.
Alessio LORANDI
Jenzer Motorsport
1:55.605
12
11.
Steijn SCHOTHORST
Arden International
1:55.610
12
12.
Ryan TVETER
Trident
1:55.684
11
13.
Tatiana CALDERON
DAMS
1:55.772
13
14.
Kevin JOERG
Trident
1:55.774
12
15.
Jack AITKEN
ART Grand Prix
1:55.823
12
16.
Giuliano ALESI
Trident
1:55.909
12
17.
Bruno BAPTISTA
DAMS
1:56.088
13
18.
Marcos SIEBERT
Campos Racing
1:56.485
10
19.
Juan Manuel CORREA
Jenzer Motorsport
1:56.597
12
20.
Julien FALCHERO
Campos Racing
1:57.015
9

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