GASLY LIGHTS UP ABU DHABI QUALIFYING
Pierre Gasly repeated his storming free practice performance by dominating this evening’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi, denying 2015 champion Stoffel Vandoorne a final pole position for the season as the pair topped the timesheets ahead of Mitch Evans.
The Red Bull test driver annexed the top spot with a lap of 1:47.769, although Vandoorne closed to within a tenth in a frenetic session which saw the top four drivers bring home times under the McLaren tester’s 2014 pole as the weekend hangs onto the cooler than usual temperatures.
The session started with the usual jockeying for position when the lights went green, but Gasly ignored them all and set the pace right from the start: Vandoorne, Evans and Alexander Rossi all briefly put themselves on top but the Frenchman broke their hearts with a 48.0 lap at the seven minute mark, to take the lead back to the pits, and then went faster again when he returned to the track to drive the point home.
His rivals were still determined to put up a challenge: teammate Alex Lynn jumped Vandoorne for P2 on his first flyer on his second set, but the Belgian stole it back a minute later to at least start from the front row. The pair (and Gasly) returned to the pits with a minute remaining: Rossi tried to push forward but made a small mistake in sector 1 to put paid to his efforts, while Evans’ last ditch attempt paid off with P3 for tomorrow.
Lynn leads the rest of the field, ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Rio Haryanto (who will be delighted to outqualify his rival Sergey Sirotkin for third in championship), Rossi, Jordan King, Nobuharu Matsushita and Artem Markelov, who all qualified within a second of pole and will be looking for more rewards in tomorrow’s feature race.