Spa European F3: Force India junior Daruvala takes bizarre pole

Force India Formula 1 team protege Jehan Daruvala put his sophomore Formula 3 European Championship season back on the track by taking pole position for the Spa round's opener

Spa European F3: Force India junior Daruvala takes bizarre pole

Mumbai teenager Daruvala has endured a disappointing campaign so far, but came through on the final lap of a bizarre session to put his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen top of the times by just 0.010 seconds from Ferrari Driver Academy prospect Marcus Armstrong.

The session was delayed by nearly an hour due to barrier repairs after Spa 24 Hours free practice, and then the 20-minute period was a third of the way through before anyone took to the track.

With three minutes until the chequered flag, only two cars had qualified, and most of the field left it until near the end of the session in the blistering hot conditions to do a run of three flying laps - all 24 cars running in formation as if they were in a race.

Championship leader Armstrong instantly planted his Prema Powerteam machine at the top, and improved further on the final lap.

But Daruvala picked up a substantial tow from Carlin team-mate Ferdinand Habsburg, and hung on around the rest of the lap to grab pole away.

"Our plan was to be in the same boat as everyone else, and manage the traffic ourselves," said Daruvala of the decision to go out late, "and there was a worry over tyres.

"I didn't panic, and I sat at the back of the group, and then it was a dream.

"Ferdinand hung back into the Bus Stop, and I towed past him before I got to Les Combes.

"My rear tyres were going off in the heat, but I managed to complete the lap and get pole."

Alex Palou returned to form after a tough Zandvoort weekend to put his Hitech GP car third, ahead of Prema trio Guan Yu Zhou, Ralf Aron and Robert Shwartzman.

Shwartzman was running at the front of the queue, and set the quickest time of all in the challenging middle sector, but with no slipstream at all his first sector - through Eau Rouge and up the Kemmel straight - was almost a second off Daruvala's.

Enaam Ahmed (seventh) and Ben Hingeley (eighth) ensured that all three Hitech cars will start in the top eight.

Motopark pair Juri Vips and Jonathan Aberdein rounded out the top 10, despite Vips never having driven the circuit until the morning free practice session.

Ahmed set the quickest time in first free practice, and Dan Ticktum then went faster to top the second session - but Ticktum has qualified only 13th, with his free practice topper 1.2s quicker than Daruvala's qualifying standard.

Another leading contender struggling was Mick Schumacher, who is 17th - he was on track relatively early and was therefore fastest for a spell, but appeared to mismanage the traffic at the end and got caught behind Artem Petrov.

Race one qualifying

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Jehan Daruvala Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 2m12.983s -
2 Marcus Armstrong PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m12.993s 0.010s
3 Alex Palou Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.198s 0.215s
4 Guanyu Zhou PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.351s 0.368s
5 Ralf Aron PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.357s 0.374s
6 Robert Shwartzman PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.469s 0.486s
7 Enaam Ahmed Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.579s 0.596s
8 Ben Hingeley Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.673s 0.690s
9 Juri Vips Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m13.742s 0.759s
10 Jonathan Aberdein Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m13.822s 0.839s
11 Nikita Troitskiy Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 2m13.837s 0.854s
12 Sacha Fenestraz Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 2m13.842s 0.859s
13 Dan Ticktum Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m13.922s 0.939s
14 Sophia Florsch Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m13.929s 0.946s
15 Marino Sato Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m14.021s 1.038s
16 Sebastian Fernandez Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m14.166s 1.183s
17 Mick Schumacher PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m14.203s 1.220s
18 Artem Petrov Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m14.207s 1.224s
19 Fabio Scherer Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2m14.316s 1.333s
20 Ferdinand Habsburg Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 2m14.822s 1.839s
21 Julian Hanses ma-con Dallara/Volkswagen 2m14.940s 1.957s
22 Ameya Vaidyanathan Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 2m15.135s 2.152s
23 Keyvan Andres Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 2m15.202s 2.219s
24 Petru Florescu Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 2m15.867s 2.884s

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