Charles Leclerc has resumed his normal service in this afternoon’s qualifying session by claiming his 8th pole position of the 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship season at the Circuito de Jerez, easily grabbing the top spot with a time of 1:24.682 late in the session to deny the honours to Luca Ghiotto and Sergio Sette Camara.
Temperatures had soared from the morning’s free practice session when the green lights shone to allow the drivers to be released, with Sette Camara leading his rivals onto the track: Nyck De Vries set the first competitive time at the 5 minute mark before Leclerc grabbed P1 from him, with Ghiotto and newcomer Alex Palou swapping 2nd place between them over the next few laps before Oliver Rowland displaced the local driver in the top 3.
Leclerc improved on his best time at the halfway mark in the session before joining most of his rivals in the pits: Sette Camara was running an alternate strategy and had the entire circuit to himself with 10 minutes remaining, allowing the Brazilian to reclaim his P3 before returning to the pits as his rivals re-emerged to continue the battle.
With 3 minutes remaining Ghiotto improved his time as Rowland returned to the pits, but so too did Leclerc: the Ferrari Academy driver knew he had it in the bag and came back to the pits with Ghiotto trying in vain to improve once again before accepting his fate and joining a rapidly filling pitlane as the clock wound down to zero.
Rowland was hoping for more but will have to make do with P4, out of the top 3 but ahead of Artem Markelov, Alexander Albon, Nobuharu Matusushita, Nyck De Vries, Nicholas Latifi and Norman Nato, all of whom were within a second of the top spot and will be hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s feature race.