George Russell led the way in qualifying for the FIA Formula 2 Championship round at Monza, Italy, beating Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara to the fastest time on the second set of runs after the Brazilian headed the timing boards before the mid-session tire change. The ART Grand Prix driver set a 1m31.546s to clinch his fourth pole of 2018, while DAMS’ Alexander Albon was third quickest.
After this morning’s downpour, qualifying thankfully got underway on a dry circuit as the last round’s feature race winner Nyck de Vries led the field out onto the track – beating PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing teammate Sean Gelael to the honour of setting the first timed lap. De Vries opened fire with a lap in the 1m33s, before Lando Norris undercut the Dutch driver to post his first quick time.
Norris’ teammate Sette Camara then eclipsed the British driver with a time 0.8s quicker, while Russell and Albon occupied the gap between the Carlins to complete the top three after the first set of runs. Although the majority attempted second runs on their first set of tires, a blend of traffic and wear restricted any further improvements to a minimum.
With ten minutes of the session remaining, the field had pitted for fresh supersoft Pirellis and returned to the circuit to complete their next set of flying runs. Artem Markelov, Norris and Albon all traded personal best times with each other at the sharp end of the timing board, before Russell cruised in and collected his best time of the session with a 1:31.546. Sette Camara sought to return to the top, but his best effort was just 0.054 adrift of the championship leader’s benchmark.
Sensing that the best of the tires was behind them, the front runners retreated to the pits in the final stages, handing Russell pole as Sette Camara secured a front-row start for tomorrow’s Feature Race. Albon beat Markelov to fourth, while Nicholas Latifi ensured both DAMS drivers were in the top five. Antonio Fuoco was sixth fastest but will serve a three-place grid drop on Saturday, while Norris beat Arjun Maini to seventh. Luca Ghiotto and Louis Deletraz completed the top half of the field.