Barcelona GP3: Pulcini upstages ART drivers to give Campos pole

Leonardo Pulcini scored a shock pole position for Campos Racing, unseating usual pacesetter ART Grand Prix at the GP3 Series season opener at Barcelona

Barcelona GP3: Pulcini upstages ART drivers to give Campos pole

A frenetic session ended in a stunning finale, as the field was separated by 1.4 seconds from first to 20th. It was the first time since Barcelona 2016 that an ART car wasn't fastest in a GP3 qualifying session.

Long-time chart-topper Nikita Mazepin reasserted himself on a number of occasions for ART, the team that took the top four spots in the championship last year.

Anthoine Hubert - a new 'Renault Sport affiliated driver' - expelled Mazepin from pole a number of times in the dying minutes, after the pair had also spent much of the first bout of flying laps swapping position at the front.

But Pulcini came from nowhere as the last frontrunning driver to set a representative lap, and earned his first GP3 pole by just 0.056s.

Outfoxed ART trio Mazepin, Hubert and Callum Ilott followed. Ilott appeared to struggle in practice and for most of qualifying, but recovered well in the dying minutes to lie just 0.2s shy of pole.

The final ART driver Jake Hughes, who topped practice earlier in the day, could only manage 11th.

Niko Kari delivered a stunning effort to put new-to-GP3 team MP Motorsport in fifth. The Finn ended 2017 by being dropped by long-time backer Red Bull then winning a race with previous team Arden.

His team-mate Dorian Boccolacci followed after a late lap, ahead of Simo Laaksonen - who couldn't match the pace of team-mate Pulcini.

European Formula 3 convert David Beckmann and Alessio Lorandi took eighth and ninth respectively, while a favourite for a top five, Giuliano Alesi, could only manage 10th on the starting grid.

The son of Formula 1 race-winner Jean had spent the early running deep in the top five with a number of strong laps. He had appeared confident after practice, but couldn't pull his qualifying lap together.

Qualifying result

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1 Leonardo Pulcini Campos Racing 1m32.258s -
2 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 1m32.315s 0.057s
3 Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 1m32.405s 0.147s
4 Callum Ilott ART Grand Prix 1m32.550s 0.292s
5 Niko Kari MP Motorsport 1m32.590s 0.332s
6 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 1m32.606s 0.348s
7 Simo Laaksonen Campos Racing 1m32.774s 0.516s
8 David Beckmann Jenzer Motorsport 1m32.796s 0.538s
9 Alessio Lorandi Trident 1m32.802s 0.544s
10 Giuliano Alesi Trident 1m32.829s 0.571s
11 Jake Hughes ART Grand Prix 1m32.855s 0.597s
12 Juan Manuel Correa Jenzer Motorsport 1m32.894s 0.636s
13 Pedro Piquet Trident 1m32.953s 0.695s
14 Tatiana Calderon Jenzer Motorsport 1m32.955s 0.697s
15 Julien Falchero Arden International 1m33.099s 0.841s
16 Diego Menchaca Campos Racing 1m33.135s 0.877s
17 Joey Mawson Arden International 1m33.168s 0.910s
18 Gabriel Aubry Arden International 1m33.252s 0.994s
19 Ryan Tveter Trident 1m33.665s 1.407s
20 Will Palmer MP Motorsport 1m33.710s 1.452s

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