GIOVINAZZI FLIES TO POLE POSITION IN SPA
Italian rookie denies teammate in dramatic qualifying session
Antonio Giovinazzi has claimed his second GP2 pole position in the dying seconds of today’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps: the Italian rookie denied teammate and Series leader Pierre Gasly who thought he had done enough until Giovinazzi crushed his hopes with a laptime of 1:56.607. Gustav Malja completed the top 3.
The session opened in hot temperatures as the twenty two cars took to the track on Soft Pirelli tyres. Gasly was quick to set a marker of 1:57.068 – two tenths better than Giovinazzi. Ten minutes into the clock, the Red Bull protégé returned to the pits whilst all eyes were on title rival and joint Series leader Sergey Sirotkin who seemed to struggle and could not do better than P15 on his first stint.
Halfway through the session, both PREMA drivers sat in 1-2, ahead of Jordan King, Norman Nato and Nobuharu Matsushita. All cars returned to the pits for some fresh tyres. Malja was the first man to resume his session with twelve minutes left on the clock. He enjoyed a clear track to light sectors 1 and 3 in purple. The Rapax driver moved up to P2 just behind Gasly. Nato also found some extra pace to go over the line in third ahead of Giovinazzi.
With three minutes left in the session, Gasly was determined to bag a third pole this season: he improved in sector 1; then he went purple in sector 2. He locked up but managed to keep the momentum in sector 3 to lap the Belgian track in a 1:56.768 beating his personal best by 3 tenths of a second. He returned to the pits confident that he had done enough, but Giovinazzi was not done. In the dying minutes, the Italian improved in the first two sectors and found Mitch Evans ahead of him in the final sector. He took advantage of the tow from the Kiwi to go quickest and clock in a laptime of 1:56.607, one tenth better than Gasly, and thus claiming pole position – PREMA’s fourth and their first full front row in their rookie season.
At the chequered flag, Malja retained P3 ahead of Nato, King, Arthur Pic, Raffaele Marciello, Alex Lynn, Matsushita and Marvin Kirchhöfer.