Brendon Hartley made a flawless return to Formula Renault 3.5 by topping the superpole session at the Nurburgring today, in doing so earning pole position for tomorrow's feature race
The New Zealander has spent the season juggling championships at the behest of patron Red Bull, and had sat out the previous two Formula Renault 3.5 meetings, at Le Mans Bugatti and Portimao, as Formula 3 Euro Series commitments with Carlin took priority.
In a repeat of Friday's opening practice session, the Tech 1 Racing team locked out the top two spots, with Frenchman Charles Pic finishing within two tenths of a second of his rookie team-mate.
"Actually, I didn't know what the times were to gauge how we were doing," said Hartley. "I am very happy for Tech 1, because it has not been easy for them to keep changing drivers all the time. We had some difficult races at the beginning of the season, now I hope that I can make it up to them.
"I had a small brake problem which made consistency difficult, so I had to work very hard to get the lap in, but I'm sure we can sort that out for the race. Swapping between Formula 3 and World Series was initially pretty difficult, and I am finding that it takes a session to get in the groove, but I really love driving these cars."
Oliver Turvey, who had been quickest in the earlier B qualifying group, finished third, 0.013s ahead of the A group's fastest runner, Fairuz Fauzy.
Currently holding second position in the standings, James Walker was left to rue that championship leader Bertrand Baguette had earned a place on the front row for this afternoon's feature race with the benefit of the reverse grid rules, but was still pleased to simply be in the field in the wake of his P1 team's devastating factory fire just a few weeks ago.
"I am relieved more than anything to be here," said fifth placed Walker. "What a surprise that Baguette would make it onto the front row, though. The reverse grid rule hasn't done us any favours, but I'd prefer it this way round. With four or five cars in front of me it should be easier to pass them with the pitstops tomorrow.
"The team's really fired up. When you have come so close to losing everything, I think that you have a hunger even more."
Walker's P1 team-mate Daniil Move will start from pole position in today's top eight reverse grid race, and was equally incredulous about the team's efforts.
"I don't believe how you can make a new team in 12 days, every single part, every single bolt is new," said Move. "I am not sure if we opted for the right changes to the car in superpole, and there is still some more time left in me, but I will try to make the most of my pole position today."
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