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Aragon FR3.5: Carlos Sainz Jr takes third consecutive pole

Carlos Sainz Jr took his third consecutive Formula Renault 3.5 pole position in qualifying for race one at Aragon on Saturday.

The Red Bull-backed racer led the way after the first runs, where he was one of the last cars to return to the pits for a new set of tyres.

That lap was not enough for pole though, as Jazeman Jaafar and then Nikolay Martsenko took top spot.

Martsenko improved again on his next flying lap to increase his margin over the field to half a second over Sainz with just three minutes remaining, but the Spaniard moved to the top by half a tenth on his next lap.

While Martsenko was unable to improve again, Sainz set another lap just 0.017s shy of his pole time.

There was a change for second place right at the end of the session, as Oliver Rowland moved into second as the last car to pass the chequered flag, missing out on pole by just 0.018s.

Late laps from Roberto Merhi and Zoel Amberg enabled them to complete the top five, just ahead of 2013 Formula Renault Eurocup champion Pierre Gasly, who is one of two drivers to currently share the championship lead with Sainz.

The other co-championship leader, Will Stevens, suffered a session to forget as he scrapped towards the bottom of the times throughout.

The Caterham F1 junior - whose Strakka Racing team has struggled for pace on new tyres so far this year - was 20th fastest out of the 21 cars after the first runs, and he could only recover to 15th with his final lap of the session.

"It's the same problem as always," said the Briton. "Yesterday on old tyres we were fastest, but we can't get the car to work on new tyres.

"I'm sure we'll make up places in the race, but this isn't where we want to be starting from. Right now we don't have the answer [on new tyres]."

Pos Driver                Team          Time       Gap     Laps
 1. Carlos Sainz Jr       DAMS          1m40.418s           14
 2. Oliver Rowland        Fortec        1m40.436s  +0.018s  13
 3. Nikolay Martsenko     Comtec        1m40.474s  +0.056s  14
 4. Roberto Merhi         Zeta Corse    1m40.581s  +0.163s  11
 5. Zoel Amberg           AVF           1m40.611s  +0.193s  14
 6. Pierre Gasly          Arden         1m40.624s  +0.206s  13
 7. Marlon Stockinger     Lotus         1m40.692s  +0.274s  14
 8. Pietro Fantin         Draco         1m40.702s  +0.284s  15
 9. Sergey Sirotkin       Fortec        1m40.709s  +0.291s  13
10. Will Buller           Arden         1m40.741s  +0.323s  14
11. Jazeman Jaafar        ISR           1m40.823s  +0.405s  13
12. Matias Laine          Strakka       1m40.894s  +0.476s  13
13. Matthieu Vaxiviere    Lotus         1m41.193s  +0.775s  14
14. Norman Nato           DAMS          1m41.198s  +0.780s  12
15. Will Stevens          Strakka       1m41.201s  +0.783s  14
16. Meindert van Buuren   Pons          1m41.244s  +0.826s  13
17. Luca Ghiotto          Draco         1m41.277s  +0.859s  13
18. Marco Sorensen        Tech 1        1m41.344s  +0.926s  13
19. Roman Mavlanov        Zeta Corse    1m41.648s  +1.230s  12
20. Oliver Webb           Pons          1m41.649s  +1.231s  13
21. Beitske Visser        AVF           1m42.240s  +1.822s  13

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