Menezes claims his first pole position
The changeable weather conditions at Spa-Francorchanps played an important role in FIA Formula 3 European Championship qualifying. After Prema‘s Esteban Ocon was fastest in the first session on a dry track, in front of Max Verstappen, just before second qualifying rain set in and the session at the 7.004 kilometres long track turned into a thrilling affair. Eventually Gustavo Menezes (pictured) claimed his maiden pole position. His team mate Verstappen joined him on the front row to complete the clean sweep for Van Amersfoort drivers. In the ranking of the second-fastest laps, Ocon came out on top again, followed by John Bryant-Meisner (Fortec Motorsports), who scored his best qualifying result to date.
In first qualifying, Verstappen initially was on top as he clocked the time of 2:10.110, but Esteban Ocon managed to set 2:10.049. Ocon’s fastest time remained unbeaten until the end of the 20 minutes’ session, so that the 17-year-old Lotus F1 Junior driver scored his eighth pole position of the season. Verstappen, who had dominated free practice earlier on, had to make do with second place. Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) qualified on the second grid row for the first race of the weekend, followed by Menezes and Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin).
In second qualifying, delayed by a few minutes due to rain setting in, the drivers initially had to deal with a wet track. As the track dried out more and more, the battle for pole position remained thrilling until the final seconds. Eventually, Menezes set the lap time of 2:25.458 and emerged as the fastest driver. The American was 1.158 seconds faster than his team-mate Verstappen. Thus, two drivers of Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing, are locking out the front row of the grid for the first time in the championship history. Ocon was classified third from Bryant-Meisner, Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3) and Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T Sport). The Spanish driver took his best qualifying result of the season.
In the ranking of the second-fastest lap times, used to determine the starting grid positions for the third race, Ocon came out on top with 2:27.897. Bryant-Meisner ended up second, allowing him to start from the front row of an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race for the first time in his career. Serrallés claimed third place from Felipe Guimarães (Double R Racing), who never scored a better result in a qualifying session. Verstappen and Menezes followed in fifth and sixth place, just ahead of seventh-placed Tatiana Calderón (Jo Zeller Racing), the only lady racer in the field.