Norris fastest at Spa
Carlin’s Lando Norris claimed a trio of pole positions in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship this afternoon at the changeable Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The 17 year-old was quickest both in this morning’s wet practice sessions and two dry qualifying sessions this afternoon to lead the field.
Norris started the day off on strong form, setting the fastest time in both of today’s wet practice sessions. The rain cleared in time for first qualifying, giving the FIA F3 drivers their first experience of dry running so far this week.
Ferdinand Habsburg was the early pace setter as qualifying got underway, showing the potential of his Volkswagen powered Carlin Dallara. As the drivers tentatively explored the grip around the newly dry Spa-Francorchamps, Norris was quick to make gains, taking provisional pole with just under eight minutes of the session remaining.
As the chequered flag fell on qualifying one the grid for the first race of the weekend was set. Norris claimed a dominant pole, Jahan Daruvala will start race one second fastest rookie and sixth after a penalty for Guanyu Zhou, Habsburg 13th and Ameya Vaidyanathan 18th in his first FIA F3 qualifying session.
Remarkably, conditions remained dry for the second qualifying session of the day. Setting the grid for both race two and three, the stakes were even higher as the drivers took to the track. In a repeat of the previous session, Norris went P1 with eight minutes to go and remained atop of the timing screens for the duration. Callum Ilott came closest to deposing the McLaren Honda Young Driver, but Norris did enough to claim pole for both race two and Saturday’s race three.
Team mate Daruvala meanwhile was make the best of a frustrating session. The Force India Academy driver struggled with traffic and had just three flying laps to set his best two efforts and duly jumped from the very bottom of the timing screens to seventh in the dying minutes.
At the chequered flag, it was a trio of pole positions for Norris, Daruvala was seventh fastest overall, Habsburg was eighth after being a front runner for the duration of the session while Vaidyanathan was 17th.
The drivers’ second fastest laps from Q2 set the grid for race three, meaning Norris starts from pole, Daruvala sixth, Habsburg eighth and Vaidyanathan 17th.
Speaking about his qualifying performance, Norris said, “Three poles is good. Racing here is obviously about a lot more than qualifying, but it’s good to show the pace we have. The tow is pretty big here so I think it will be exciting racing tomorrow. I’m really confident in all conditions here, wet or dry, but I prefer wet, just because it’s more fun! I did a slightly better job in second qualifying and the car was improved as well, which gave me more confidence, particularly in the middle sector. I think I did a good job of managing the session, so I’m happy.”