In qualifying for the Formula 2 Feature Race in Azerbaijan, championship leader Charles Leclerc continued his form to secure his fourth pole position in the first four races of the 2017 Season.
Four poles in four races for Charles Leclerc in Azerbaijan
Going into the session, Nyck De Vries, Jordan King, and Luca Ghiotto were all looking like viable candidates to secure pole after filling out the top three places in practice earlier today while Leclerc struggled down in seventh.
Come qualifying however, this order changed, and Luca Ghiotto quickly found himself out of the session after crashing his Russian Time car on his first flying lap, leading to the session being red flagged for the first time. The debris from the accident were quickly cleared up however, and the session was once again resumed before Nicholas Latifi clipped the barrier in the castle section, damaging his front wing, resulting in another red flag being shown. Once Latifi’s broken front wing was cleared up, the pit lane was again opened and the session was resumed, and remained uninterrupted from then on in.
As the drivers were lapping, track acclimatization as clear. and the field began to improve with every lap that was put in. In the final stages, Nobuharu Matushita was the pacesetter and held the fastest lap, but both Latifi and Leclerc were improving. When the pair crossed the line, Leclerc set the fastest time and moved into provisional pole position while Latifi filtered into third place.
When the checkered flag waved, no one was able to challenge Leclerc’s pace, handing the Monégasque driver a fourth pole position in four races, making him the only man to start from the first grid slot in every Feature Race so far this season. Nobuharu Matushita ended the session in second fastest, albeit 0.568 seconds off Leclerc, which means that the Japanese driver will start on the front row of the grid. Nicholas Latifi rounded out the top three qualifiers in third place for DAMS, marking his highest qualifying position of 2017 so far.
Heading into the Feature Race in Baku, Charles Leclerc is looking strong and will be aiming to win for sure and extend his lead over Oliver Rowland in the Drivers’ Champiosnhip. After setting the pace in qualifying and being over half a second faster than his nearest challenger, it is hard to imagine that anyone will be able to challenge Leclerc in the race. Nyck De Vries could be a difficult opponent however, and may be able to challenge despite qualifying in fourth place, showing strong pace in practice and winning last time out in Monaco. It will also be interesting to see how Luca Ghiotto makes his way through the field after being one of the fastest drivers in practice but crashing out in qualifying, meaning that he will start at the back of the grid.
Qualifying results for the Azerbaijan Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 1:52129
- Nobuharu Matushita, ART Grand Prix, 1:52.697
- Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 1:52,865
- Nyck De Vries, Rapax, 1:53.018
- Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 1:53.135
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 1:53.220
- Johnny Cecotto Jr, Rapax, 1:53.313
- Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 1:53.354
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 1:53.479
- Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 1:53.670
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 1:53.853
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 1:53.900
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 1:54.032
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 1:54.286
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 1:54.295
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 1:54.339
- Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix, 1:54.384
- Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 1:54.688
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 1:54.857
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, No time