Jack Doohan claimed his first FIA Formula 2 pole position of the year with a last-gasp effort in a closely fought session. The Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver’s 1:27.676 prevented a third consecutive pole position for Victor Martins, with the ART Grand Prix driver second in the end. Frederik Vesti held provisional pole for much of the session, but couldn’t find a late improvement, and the PREMA Racing driver had to settle for third at the chequered flag.

After the early warm-up laps, Vesti set the benchmark to beat on a 1:28.334 to lead the way. Doohan popped his #14 car into second early on, 0.2s back from the Dane with Martins third.

The PREMA driver pushed on once again and with three more purple sectors, lowered his best to a 1:27.931. Martins closed the gap once again to 0.111s with ART Grand Prix teammate Théo Pourchaire third.

Improvements by Enzo Fittipaldi, Ayumu Iwasa and Dennis Hauger put them fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, bumping Doohan down to P7 just before a Red Flag.

Trident’s Roman Stanek caused the stoppage after spinning into the barriers at Turn 11, with just under 20 minutes of Qualifying remaining.

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Back to green conditions, everyone bar the PREMA, ART and Campos Racing teammates were immediately back on track. Invicta Virtuosi were the only team to complete their laps and Doohan lifted himself up to third to get within a quarter of a second of Vesti.

After another brief spell in the pitlane and switch to new soft tyres, cars rejoined the track with 12 minutes to go. Pourchaire was next to go top by just 0.001s ahead of his title rival until Vesti retook P1 with a 1:27.767. Teammate Oliver Bearman cracked the top five on his next lap to go fourth fastest ahead of Jehan Daruvala, who leapt up to fifth for MP Motorsport.

Martins had made an error on an earlier effort but with a purple middle sector took provisional pole by 0.039s but this time, Vesti couldn’t respond. It was Doohan who took the top spot away from ART, putting in a 1:27.676. Pourchaire and Martins tried one last time but couldn’t better the Invicta Virtuosi driver’s time.

Doohan secured his first pole position since Monza last year, whilst fellow Alpine junior Martins will start alongside him on the Feature Race grid, with Vesti and Pourchaire completing the second row.

Isack Hadjar made a late improvement to leap up to fifth ahead of Ayumu Iwasa in sixth position. Bearman ended up P7 with MP teammates Daruvala and Hauger in eighth and ninth.