Vandoorne claims maiden pole
McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne has snatched his first GP2 pole position on home soil in today’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps. The Belgian ace denied Series leader Jolyon Palmer from the top spot at the chequered flag. Mitch Evans took third spot.
The weather conditions were still fresh when the pitlane opened and the drivers fed onto the track on Pirelli Medium tyres. Already fast in this morning’s practice session, Johnny Cecotto quickly topped the standings, dipping under 1:58s, but Palmer was able to find a clear lap to break the 1:57s barrier. The Briton clocked in a laptime of 1:56.857 – five tenths quicker than Vandoorne then in P2.
Another rookie looked hungry for glory in the name of Raffaele Marciello: the mighty Italian improved on his first set of tyres to move up to second with a laptime of 1:57.237. Halfway through the session, the drivers returned to the pits for a fresh pair of tyres. They rejoined the track with ten minutes left on the clock. This morning’s fastest man Julian Leal was on a mission and improved on the first two sectors, but he hit traffic in the final sector thus reducing his efforts to naught.
In the dying minutes, Palmer seemed to have done enough to claim another pole position this season, but Vandoorne put his head down and found some extra pace to edge the Briton out of the top spot by 0.018s. At the chequered flag, Evans took third spot ahead of Marciello, Cecotto, Leal, Nathanaël Berthon, Simon Trummer, Marco Sorensen and Stéphane Richelmi.
With the weather forecast being uncertain and the demands of the Belgian track leaving no room for driver error, tomorrow’s feature race promises to be a cracker.