Bahrain F2: Ilott claims pole, points leader Schumacher 10th

Callum Ilott cut four points from fellow Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher's FIA Formula 2 Championship advantage by claiming a clear pole position in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit

Bahrain F2: Ilott claims pole, points leader Schumacher 10th

Ilott set an absolute flier at the wheel of his Virtuosi-run car on his first push lap, and this was never approached by anybody else, meaning he has narrowed the gap from 22 points to 18 against series leader Schumacher, who will line up for Saturday's race in 10th position.

Ilott was over half a second clear of his closest rival, ART Grand Prix-run Ferrari protege Marcus Armstrong, on the first push laps.

The Briton then locked up at Turn 1 and ran wide on his second attempt at a quick time, as Felipe Drugovich improved to move his MP Motorsport car up to second.

None of the top five runners - Ilott, Drugovich, Dan Ticktum, Armstrong and Guanyu Zhou - improved on their second sets of medium-compound 'option' Pirellis, with a change of wind conditions suspected.

Even so, Drugovich was on a hot lap when he encountered Nikita Mazepin, and had to go around the Russian at Turn 8.

The Brazilian set a purple final sector, but had lost 0.6 seconds to Ilott in the middle sector in which he had overtaken Mazepin, and 0.4s to his own best in that sector.

This meant that Ilott finished the session 0.391s clear of Drugovich.

Williams-supported DAMS driver Ticktum went third on his second push lap on his first set of tyres, while Armstrong, like Ilott, never improved on his opening gambit and will start fourth.

It was the same story for Ilott's Virtuosi team-mate, Renault F1 Junior Guanyu Zhou, who lines up fifth.

The next batch of drivers all went quicker on their second sets of tyres, and it was Giuliano Alesi who headed them to make it two MP cars in the top six.

Alesi then pulled off the track at the exit of Turn 4 with a mechanical failure, gesticulating furiously to marshals to use their fire extinguishers, and this brought out a session-terminating red flag with just over one minute remaining, meaning most of the field didn't complete their final attempts at a hot lap.

Mazepin, without a representative time on his first set of Pirellis due to a track-limits offence, bounced his way up to seventh in his Hitech Grand Prix car, while Red Bull Junior Jehan Daruvala qualified eighth for Carlin.

ART's Renault F1 prospect Christian Lundgaard took ninth, so will share the fifth row with Prema Racing man Schumacher, who never featured but improved from 12th to 10th on the second runs.

FIA Formula 3 Championship runner-up Theo Pourchaire did a respectable job bearing in mind his lack of F2 mileage to qualify his HWA Racelab car 16th, over a second quicker than F2 veteran team-mate Artem Markelov.

Right at the back of the grid will be Carlin's Red Bull and Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda.

The Japanese was on a storming first push lap that looked set to put him second to Ilott based on his first two sector times, but got into a wicked slide through the flat-out Turn 12 that ran him out wide onto the kerb under braking for Turn 13, where he spun and stalled.

Tsunoda tried to get the car going, but to no avail and the session was red-flagged while he was retrieved from the middle of the track.

Bahrain F2 qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi 1m41.479s
2 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 0.391s
3 Dan Ticktum DAMS 0.568s
4 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix 0.573s
5 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi 0.586s
6 Giuliano Alesi MP Motorsport 0.595s
7 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 0.660s
8 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 0.712s
9 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 0.780s
10 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 0.804s
11 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.837s
12 Roy Nissany Trident 0.859s
13 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System 1.002s
14 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 1.175s
15 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 1.369s
16 Theo Pourchaire BWT HWA RACELAB 1.488s
17 Marino Sato Trident 1.691s
18 Sean Gelael DAMS 1.712s
19 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing 1.807s
20 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 1.887s
21 Artem Markelov BWT HWA RACELAB 2.540s
- Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 15.569s

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Series FIA F2
Author Marcus Simmons
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