Albon takes maiden pole in Baku

Alexander Albon, Sakhir 2018
Alex Albon secures his first F2 pole ever in Azerbaijan’s capital

In a session which was interrupted twice by red flags, DAMS’ Alexander Albon set the fastest time ahead of Lando Norris and George Russell.

The entire grid started the second qualifying of the season, which took place under moderate conditions, on the red super soft tyres.

During his second warm up lap, Maximilian Günther’s machinery stopped just after the pit lane exit. This unlucky event triggered a first red flag of the weekend and therefore brought the rest of the field back into the pits as well.

On the first round of flying laps, Norris turned out to be immediately 1.4 seconds faster than his teammate Camara, who set the fastest time in practice. Albon, who used Norris’ slipstream one lap later, was five hundredths of a second faster, only to be outshined by Luca Ghiotto by another tenth. ART’s George Russell and Jack Aitken could be found just behind them in P4 and P5.

While most of the drivers temporarily returned to the pits, Ghiotto tried to improve, which didn’t work out in the end. Günther, who stopped in the early stages of the session, was interrupted again by a yellow flag, caused by Roy Nissany. However, the German massively improved on the following lap and got himself up to 5th place.

Artem Markelov pushed too hard in his first attempt and only posted the 18th fastest time. Sean Gelael and Nicholas Latifi also had to improve, being in P17 and P20 respectively with 9 minutes to go.

The last set of hot laps started five minutes before the session ended and saw many drivers improving their personal fastest laps, with Albon beating Norris and Russell by two and three tenths respectively. Ghiotto came home in fourth, Ferrucci surprisingly in P5.

Just moments later, Latifi spun and blocked the track which led to another red flag. The stewards decided not to restart the session, which secured a maiden pole for his Thai teammate. Gelael’s, Markelov’s and Latifi’s disappointing positions stayed the same.

Qualifying Results

Pos. Driver Team Fastest lap Gap
1 Alexander Albon DAMS 1:54.480
2 Lando Norris Carlin 1:54.694 +0.214
3 George Russell ART 1:54.842 +0.362
4 Luca Ghiotto Campos 1:54.980 +0.500
5 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 1:55.212 +0.732
6 Jack Aitken ART 1:55.236 +0.756
7 Arjun Maini Trident 1:55.474 +0.994
8 Nyck de Vries Prema 1:55.728 +1.248
9 Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport 1:55.761 +1.281
10 Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 1:56.139 +1.659
11 Roberto Merhi MP Motorsport 1:56.532 +2.052
12 Antonio Fuoco Charouz 1:57.090 +2.610
13 Louis Deletraz Charouz 1:57.105 +2.652
14 Sean Gelael Prema 1:57.508 +3.028
15 Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:57.604 +3.124
16 Roy Nissany Campos 2:01.902 +7.422
DSQ* Maximilian Günther Arden 1:55.970 +1.490
DSQ* Nirei Fukuzumi Arden 1:57.351 +2.871
DSQ* Santino Ferrucci Trident 1:55.200 +0.720
20** Nicholas Latifi DAMS 2:02.970 +8.490

*NOTE: Ferrucci, who had qualified 5th, was disqualified for failing to comply to the minimum tyre pressures; Fukuzumi, who had qualified 17th, and Günther, who had qualified 11th, were disqualified when stewards found that Arden had used an extra member for operation on their cars (13 against the permitted 12).
**NOTE: Latifi did not qualify within the 107% rule but will be allowed to start the race.

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