Merhi takes Ricard F3 poles

Roberto Merhi claimed his maiden Formula 3 Euro Series pole positions after dominating qualifying for the opening round of the season at Paul Ricard in France

Merhi takes Ricard F3 poles

The Prema Powerteam driver's pace-setting time of 1m51.511s came on his final lap of the session and ensured that he would start the weekend's third race - the feature event - from the front of the grid.

Additionally, his second quickest time, which was less than 0.2s slower, secured him the front spot for the opening race of the season on Saturday. The grid for race two will be a reverse of the race one top eight finishing order.

The Spaniard's times were a staggering 0.7s quicker than anybody else's. Championship favourite Marco Wittmann was second quickest in his Volkswagen-engined Signature car with his team-mate Laurens Vanthoor and Prema's Daniel Juncadella completing the second row for the feature race.

Mucke's Nigel Melker, who had topped free practice, was fifth quickest overall, but will start race one from third on the grid - behind Merhi and Vanthoor - based on a superior second best time.

Overall the Volkswagen and Mercedes engined cars seemed evenly matched as four cars powered by each engine filled the top eight grid spots. Swede Jimmy Eriksson was the best of the Motopark drivers in eighth in his VW-engined Dallara.

Race 1 grid: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 1m51.649s 2. Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW 1m52.437s + 0.788s 3. Nigel Melker Mucke Dallara-Merc 1m52.607s + 0.958s 4. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc 1m52.639s + 0.990s 5. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW 1m52.791s + 1.142s 6. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 1m52.824s + 1.175s 7. Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW 1m53.226s + 1.577s 8. Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW 1m53.507s + 1.858s 9. Jimmy Eriksson Motopark Dallara-VW 1m53.509s + 1.860s 10. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW 1m53.715s + 2.066s 11. Kuba Giermaziak Star Dallara-VW 1m54.042s + 2.393s 12. Gianmarco Raimondo Motopark Dallara-VW 1m54.199s + 2.550s Race 3 grid: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 1m51.511s 2. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW 1m52.227s + 0.716s 3. Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW 1m52.354s + 0.843s 4. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc 1m52.366s + 0.855s 5. Nigel Melker Mucke Dallara-Merc 1m52.440s + 0.929s 6. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 1m52.723s + 1.212s 7. Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW 1m53.193s + 1.682s 8. Jimmy Eriksson Motopark Dallara-VW 1m53.357s + 1.846s 9. Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW 1m53.365s + 1.854s 10. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW 1m53.708s + 2.197s 11. Kuba Giermaziak Star Dallara-VW 1m53.710s + 2.199s 12. Gianmarco Raimondo Motopark Dallara-VW 1m54.095s + 2.584s Race 1: Second fastest qualifying laps Race 2: Reverse of race 1 top 8 finishing order Race 3: Fastest qualifying laps 

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