Euro F3 Red Bull Ring: Ilott pips Gunther to pole for opener

Britain's Callum Ilott grabbed pole position for the first Formula 3 European Championship race of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring in a thrilling qualifying session

Euro F3 Red Bull Ring: Ilott pips Gunther to pole for opener

Ilott pipped Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes team-mate Maximilian Gunther by just 0.016 seconds with a late effort that came with one minute of the session to go.

It represented a return to form for Prema, which had a difficult weekend by its own high standards last time out at the Nurburgring.

"Maxi improved quite a lot so I had to step it up," said Ilott, who also topped free practice earlier in the day.

"Earlier on I was doing laps where I'd just make a little mistake in one corner - it was enough to be P1 at the time, but I knew Maxi could do a quicker lap.

"In the end I just managed to put one lap together and that was good enough to pip him.

"I knew I could do it, but I wasn't confident it could actually happen - it's difficult to do the perfect lap here and also at the right time."

Gunther, who needs to prevent championship leader Lando Norris outscoring him by more than one point this weekend to take the title to the Hockenheim finale, said: "I put in a pretty good lap, but that lap destroyed my rear tyres so I was not able to improve.

"It was a good battle with Callum, and to be honest I'm happy with the performance."

Regarding the points deficit he faces to Norris, the Austro-Bavarian Mercedes protege added: "Of course the goal is to keep it open to Hockenheim.

"It [winning the title] is difficult, but nothing is impossible, especially in sport - as you saw in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend."

Joel Eriksson bounced back to form after a sorry recent run to put his Motopark car third on the grid.

The Swedish BMW junior felt there was a balance issue in free practice but that things improved in qualifying "and we're always quite fast in the race".

McLaren F1 protege Norris felt he was hampered by understeer in his Carlin car, but just held on for fourth in the face of late efforts from Hitech GP duo Tadasuke Makino and Nikita Mazepin, who locked out the third row.

David Beckmann was as spectacular as ever and lost part of the underside of his Motopark car on the brutal kerbs at the penultimate turn, but he took seventh from Joey Mawson - the Van Amersfoort Racing man has a three-place grid penalty hanging over from the Nurburgring and will start 11th.

That moves Mawson's VAR team-mate Harrison Newey up to eighth, while next was Ferdinand Habsburg, but he also has a three-place grid penalty.

Up to ninth therefore comes Ralf Aron, with Guan Yu Zhou 10th.

Jake Hughes would be 10th on the grid, but an engine change after first free practice means he will take a 10-place penalty for the opener.

Qualifying result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Callum Ilott Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m23.301s
2 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 0.016s
3 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 0.195s
4 Lando Norris Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 0.247s
5 Tadasuke Makino Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 0.273s
6 Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 0.284s
7 David Beckmann Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 0.287s
8 Joey Mawson Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 0.323s
9 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 0.350s
10 Ferdinand Habsburg Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 0.393s
11 Ralf Aron Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 0.416s
12 Jake Hughes Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 0.426s
13 Guanyu Zhou Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 0.427s
14 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 0.443s
15 Mick Schumacher Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 0.474s
16 Jehan Daruvala Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 0.587s
17 Marino Sato Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 0.697s
18 Devlin Defrancesco Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 0.888s
19 Keyvan Andres Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1.112s
20 Petru Florescu Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1.831s

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