De Vries inches closer to Formula 2 title with Sochi feature pole

Championship leader and future Mercedes Formula E Nyck de Vries extended his championship lead over title rival and Williams Formula 1 junior Nicholas Latifi with Formula 2 pole at Sochi

De Vries inches closer to Formula 2 title with Sochi feature pole

Latifi trailed by 59 points entering the weekend, but arrived hopeful at the Russian venue where he took second in last year's feature race to then DAMS team-mate and now Red Bull Formula 1 junior Alexander Albon.

With the threat of rain placing further pressure on the drivers, Latifi look assured on the first flying runs as he put himself top of the pile, but ART Grand Prix's de Vries was threatening in second.

After the mid-session lull for debriefs, de Vries delivered the top time of 1m47.440s - two tenths clear of Latifi in second - to claim his second successive pole at Sochi while few other drivers managed to improve.

De Vries only needs to take seven points more than Latifi from this weekend to take his first F2 title in the car George Russell used to take last year's championship in Abu Dhabi.

Latifi is still yet to score an F2 career pole.

Having snatched pole in mixed conditions last time out, Ferrari junior Callum Ilott again proved his speed by jumping up to third late on for the Sauber Junior team, while Luca Ghiotto claimed fourth which is key for the battle for third in the championship.

His team-mate Guan Yu Zhou delivered a session best sector, which totalled fifth for the Renault junior by the end of the lap.

He heads Ghiotto's rival for third in the championship, Sette Camara in the second DAMS, who was shuffled back late on.

Louis Deletraz threatened and went as high as fourt for Carlin but had to settle for seventh ahead of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin - de Vries's team-mate - and Jordan King of MP Motorsport.

Honda junior Nobuharu Matsushita ran in an off-sync strategy hoping rain would arrive lat in the session, but his wish went unfulfilled and he dropped from sixth to 10th.

Jack Aitken had a scrappy session where he received front wing damage on his first flying run of the session, and his late effort was only good enough for 12th which is a blow for his aspirations of moving up the championship order from fourth.

Artem Markelov was the best of the rookies and drivers with new teams, the Super Formula driver making his second appearance of the season in F2, this time with Arden where he drives in place of the late Anthoine Hubert.

Russian driver Markelov took 16th, one spot ahead of the injured Juan Manuel Correa's replacement, Matevos Isaakyan, making his F2 debut at his home event.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 1m47.440s
2 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0.260s
3 Callum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 0.297s
4 Luca Ghiotto UNI-Virtuosi 0.327s
5 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi 0.403s
6 Sergio Sette Camara DAMS 0.591s
7 Louis Deletraz Carlin 0.748s
8 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 0.786s
9 Jordan King MP Motorsport 0.880s
10 Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin 0.956s
11 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 1.004s
12 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 1.037s
13 Sean Gelael Prema Racing 1.127s
14 Giuliano Alesi Trident 1.410s
15 Ralph Boschung Trident 1.440s
16 Artem Markelov BWT Arden 1.804s
17 Matevos Isaakyan Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 2.057s
18 Tatiana Calderon BWT Arden 2.815s
19 Marino Sato Campos Racing 2.871s
20 Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 4.509s
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