Spa-Francorchamps F3: Zendeli takes maiden pole in rain-hit qualifying

Lirim Zendeli earned his maiden FIA Formula 3 pole position after topping a qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps that was effectively prematurely ended by a mid-session rain shower

Spa-Francorchamps F3: Zendeli takes maiden pole in rain-hit qualifying

The session was red-flagged after just eight minutes when FIA F3 debutant Michael Belov spun his Charouz Racing System machine backwards into the barriers at Pouhon.

Only nine of the 30 drivers had posted a representative lap time at that stage, with Trident's Zendeli the fastest of them on a 2m05.393s.

ART Grand Prix duo Theo Pourchaire and Alexander Smolyar completed the top three, with championship protagonists Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri without a proper lap time and well outside the top 15.

When the session resumed it was Prema's Sargeant who was able to get closest to the top three with the fourth quickest time of the session, albeit six-tenths slower than Zendeli's benchmark.

The top three remained unchallenged as the cars returned to the pits to prepare for their final runs but a rain shower left little chance of improvements despite the majority of drivers attempting to set a lap in the damp conditions.

This ensured 20-year-old Zendeli, who was denied a maiden FIA F3 win at Silverstone by less than two-tenths of a second, claimed his first pole in the series.

ART GP's Pourchaire and Smolyar complete the top three on the grid, ahead of championship leader Sargeant - his worst qualifying position since the season-opener at the Red Bull Ring.

Zendeli's team-mate David Beckmann qualified in fifth place ahead of 2019 Macau Grand Prix winner Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport) and Red Bull junior Liam Lawson.

Renault junior Oscar Piastri, who sits just one point behind his Prema team-mate Sargeant in the drivers' championship, was forced to settle for eighth place ahead of the third Prema-run entry of Frederik Vesti.

Campos Racing's Alexander Peroni rounded out the top 10 fastest drivers in the session.

HWA Racelab's Jake Hughes was frustrated to only qualify in 12th place after his team-mate Jack Doohan - who qualified 13th on the grid - had topped practice on Friday morning.

"Where the hell has my pace gone?" Hughes fumed on the radio after his opening run.

David Schumacher qualified in 22nd for this first weekend with Carlin following his switch from Charouz.

FIA F3 debutant Pierre-Louis Chovet endured a tricky maiden F3 qualifying session, recording the slowest representative lap time in 27th for Hitech Grand Prix.

Spa-Francorchamps F3 qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Lirim Zendeli Trident 2m05.393s
2 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 0.203s
3 Alexander Smolyar ART Grand Prix 0.414s
4 Logan Sargeant Prema Racing 0.686s
5 David Beckmann Trident 0.719s
6 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 0.751s
7 Liam Lawson Hitech GP 0.779s
8 Oscar Piastri Prema Racing 0.813s
9 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 0.922s
10 Alex Peroni Campos Racing 1.020s
11 Olli Caldwell Trident 1.051s
12 Jake Hughes HWA 1.075s
13 Jack Doohan HWA 1.112s
14 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport 1.195s
15 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA 1.365s
16 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix 1.474s
17 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport 1.606s
18 Igor Fraga Charouz 1.852s
19 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport 2.111s
20 Andreas Estner Campos Racing 2.117s
21 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 2.137s
22 David Schumacher Carlin 2.305s
23 Clement Novalak Carlin 2.579s
24 Roman Stanek Charouz 2.965s
25 Cameron Das Carlin 3.160s
26 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing 3.374s
27 Pierre-Louis Chovet Hitech GP 3.588s
- Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport 15.576s
- Dennis Hauger Hitech GP -
- Michael Belov Charouz -

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