European F3 Imola: Williams F1 prospect Lance Stroll takes pole

Williams protege Lance Stroll grabbed pole position from two Red Bull juniors in a thrilling Formula 3 European Championship qualifying session at Imola

European F3 Imola: Williams F1 prospect Lance Stroll takes pole

Top spot changed hands three times on the final lap, with Stroll first losing pole to 16-year-old Finnish rookie Niko Kari before Sergio Sette Camara went faster still.

Finally, Stroll crossed the line to snatch pole position from Sette Camara by 0.119 seconds to make a perfect start to a weekend on which the Prema Powerteam driver could wrap up the title.

The Canadian had been supreme all day, comfortably topping both free practice sessions, although his pole for race one was 0.4s slower than he managed in the heat of the early afternoon.

Sette Camara almost provided the perfect riposte after a disastrous day - the Brazilian's Motopark car suffered an engine failure during free practice, which means that he is likely to face three 10-place grid penalties due to needing a new powerplant.

That comes after he was hit with an identical penalty over the preceding rounds at Spa and the Nurburgring.

He then had problems early in qualifying and didn't even have a time on the board until the final minutes.

A penalty for Sette Camara would elevate reigning SMP Formula 4 champion Kari to his maiden front row start after a day on which he was consistently competitive.

George Russell and Anthoine Hubert were close to the pole battle and ended up fourth and fifth respectively.

Hitech GP driver Russell set a quickest first-sector time on the final-lap shootout, but pace was slightly lacking over the remainder of the circuit.

The Van Amersfoort Racing machine of Hubert was second as the chequered flag fell, but could not quite eke out any extra time over the final lap.

Prema's Nick Cassidy ended up sixth, ahead of Joel Eriksson (Motopark) and Callum Ilott (VAR).

Next was David Beckmann, who caused a red flag 12 minutes into the 20-minute session - the Mucke Motorsport-run German had just set the fastest first sector to date but failed to emerge from the second, and dropped from third to ninth in the closing minutes.

Ferrari protege Guan Yu Zhou completed the top 10 in his Motopark car, and should share the fifth row with Ralf Aron (Prema) in the event of a Sette Camara penalty.

Stroll's chances of clinching the title improved even further with the performance of second-in-points Maximilian Gunther.

The German missed almost all of free practice after losing concentration at the kink after Piratella and crashing, and could only qualify 17th in his rebuilt car.

QUALIFYING TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.001s - 11
2 Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1m36.120s 0.119s 6
3 Niko Kari Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1m36.164s 0.163s 9
4 George Russell Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.250s 0.249s 9
5 Anthoine Hubert Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.262s 0.261s 11
6 Nick Cassidy Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.507s 0.506s 11
7 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1m36.544s 0.543s 8
8 Callum Ilott Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.551s 0.550s 11
9 David Beckmann kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.627s 0.626s 6
10 Guanyu Zhou Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1m36.631s 0.630s 8
11 Ralf Aron Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.642s 0.641s 11
12 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.755s 0.754s 10
13 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.790s 0.789s 10
14 Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.826s 0.825s 9
15 Mikkel Jensen kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 1m36.891s 0.890s 9
16 Ben Barnicoat Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 1m37.042s 1.041s 10
17 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m37.198s 1.197s 11
18 Ukyo Sasahara ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/Threebond 1m37.307s 1.306s 10
19 Andy Chang ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 1m39.199s 3.198s 10

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