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Monza FR3.5: Carlos Sainz Jr takes pole for DAMS in season opener

Sainz Monza

Carlos Sainz Jr took pole position for the Formula Renault 3.5 season opener at Monza on Saturday with a commanding performance throughout qualifying.

The Red Bull junior, who set the pace during Friday's running as well, was in control of the battle for pole for the majority of the session.

Sainz was quickest when all the cars came in at the halfway stage for a second set of tyres, and he increased his margin to nearly half a second before some of his rivals started to catch up.

Will Buller, who was also near the front throughout the session, won the battle for best of the rest to join the Spaniard on the front row, while rookie Luca Ghiotto continued his form from free practice to take third.

Fourth place went to Will Stevens, while a late showing of speed from DTM refugee Roberto Merhi landed him fifth place ahead of Marlon Stockinger, who had run as high as second to Sainz earlier on.

Any hope that the chasing pack had of deposing Sainz in the final minute was taken away when the session was red flagged with 43 seconds remaining after Zoel Amberg went off at the second chicane.

The biggest surprise of the session came further down the order, as Fortec pairing Oliver Rowland and Sergey Sirotkin both struggled throughout.

In the end Rowland could only manage 16th, with Sauber Formula 1 junior Sirotkin on the following row in 18th place.

Pos  Driver               Team     Time       Gap
 1.  Carlos Sainz Jr      DAMS     1m33.235s
 2.  Will Buller          Arden    1m33.359s  +0.124s
 3.  Luca Ghiotto         Draco    1m33.451s  +0.216s
 4.  Will Stevens         Strakka  1m33.549s  +0.314s
 5.  Roberto Merhi        Zeta     1m33.653s  +0.418s
 6.  Marlon Stockinger    Lotus    1m33.692s  +0.457s
 7.  Nikolay Martsenko    Comtec   1m33.708s  +0.473s
 8.  Pierre Gasly         Arden    1m33.857s  +0.622s
 9.  Jazeman Jaafar       ISR      1m33.863s  +0.628s
10.  Matthieu Vaxiviere   Lotus    1m33.920s  +0.685s
11.  Roman Mavlanov       Zeta     1m33.935s  +0.700s
12.  Marco Sorensen       Tech 1   1m34.110s  +0.875s
13.  Matias Laine         Strakka  1m34.132s  +0.897s
14.  Zoel Amberg          AVF      1m34.178s  +0.943s
15.  Pietro Fantin        Draco    1m34.252s  +1.017s
16.  Oliver Rowland       Fortec   1m34.274s  +1.039s
17.  Norman Nato          DAMS     1m34.354s  +1.119s
18.  Sergey Sirotkin      Fortec   1m34.414s  +1.179s
19.  Oliver Webb          Pons     1m34.460s  +1.225s
20.  Meindert van Buuren  Pons     1m34.650s  +1.415s
21.  Beitske Visser       AVF      1m35.383s  +2.148s
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