Norisring European F3: Charles Leclerc pips Alexander Albon to pole

Charles Leclerc grabbed pole position for the first race of the Norisring Formula 3 European Championship weekend after a seesaw battle with fellow Formula Renault 2.0 graduate Alexander Albon

Norisring European F3: Charles Leclerc pips Alexander Albon to pole

The two rookies, neither of whom had seen the Nuremberg street circuit until free practice on Friday morning, swapped the top spot numerous times, with the Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Volkswagen shading it by 0.009 seconds from the Signature car of Lotus F1 junior Albon.

Championship leader Leclerc, who was also fastest in both his sessions in free practice, paid tribute to the VAR squad and blamed himself for making life more difficult than it could have been.

"I did an error by locking the right-front tyre at the beginning, then had to set quicker times with a flat-spot," said the Monegasque.

"It was a hard lap - I couldn't brake as late as I wanted to but I'm really happy."

With the field split into two due to the short 48-second lap at the Norisring, Albon will only start third on the grid as he was second in the faster group.

Mucke Motorsport's Maximilian Gunther topped the slower, even-numbered group after an intra-German driver and team battle with Motopark runner Markus Pommer.

Gunther, also a Norisring newcomer, grabbed his front-row spot right at the end of the session, with a margin of 0.010s over Pommer.

Signature's Dorian Boccolacci jumped to third in the group with pretty much the last timed lap of the session.

The 16-year-old Frenchman had topped the evens in free practice, before a collision with Raoul Hyman for which both drivers earned a reprimand.

Alessio Lorandi (VAR) was fourth in this group from a disappointed Jake Dennis.

Dennis's Prema squad elected to switch from the low-downforce, single-plane rear wing set-up - favoured by Mucke, Motopark and VAR - to the medium-downforce two-plane configuration (as used by Signature and Carlin) for the later odd session, but the team's Felix Rosenqvist was a frustrating tenth adrift of Leclerc and Albon. The Swede took third in the group, and fifth on the grid.

Antonio Giovinazzi, the series leader until last time out at Spa, took fourth in the group (seventh on the grid) in his Carlin machine, with Mucke's Mikkel Jensen next.

Meanwhile, Arjun Maini, who qualified seventh in his group, has been given a 10-place grid penalty for all three races after a VW engine failure in his VAR machine at the end of first free practice, a session the Indian topped for some time.

The evens session was red-flagged with five minutes remaining when Pietro Fittipaldi smacked the wall exiting the chicane, reportedly due to a stuck throttle.

STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Team Car Time
1 Charles Leclerc Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 48.240s
2 Maximilian Guenther KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 48.533s
3 Alexander Albon Signature Dallara/Volkswagen 48.249s
4 Markus Pommer Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 48.543s
5 Felix Rosenqvist Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 48.335s
6 Dorian Boccolacci Signature Dallara/Volkswagen 48.603s
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.439s
8 Alessio Lorandi Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 48.637s
9 Mikkel Jensen KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 48.443s
10 Jake Dennis Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 48.658s
11 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 48.491s
12 Gustavo Menezes Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.684s
13 George Russell Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.690s
14 Santino Ferrucci KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 48.600s
15 Callum Ilott Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.750s
16 Fabian Schiller Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 48.683s
17 Michele Beretta KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 48.812s
18 Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 48.719s
19 Ryan Tveter Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.846s
20 Tatiana Calderon Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 48.746s
21 Sam MacLeod Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 48.952s
22 Julio Moreno ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 48.759s
23 Arjun Maini Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 48.563s
24 Nabil Jeffri Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 48.955s
25 Matt Solomon Double R Racing Dallara/Mercedes 48.763s
26 Brandon Maisano Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 49.103s
27 Kang Ling KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 48.870s
28 Raoul Hyman Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 49.105s
29 Pietro Fittipaldi Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 49.242s
30 Mahaveer Raghunathan Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 49.289s
31 Nicolas Pohler Double R Racing Dallara/Mercedes 49.349s
32 Matt Rao Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 49.071s

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Norisring European F3: Lotus junior Alexander Albon takes two poles

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