F2 Abu Dhabi: 2019 Williams driver Russell close to title with pole

Newly-signed 2019 Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell took a step closer to this year's Formula 2 title by claiming pole position for the feature race in Abu Dhabi

F2 Abu Dhabi: 2019 Williams driver Russell close to title with pole

ART Grand Prix driver Russell takes four championship points for the fifth pole of his rookie F2 campaign, extending his lead over title rival Alexander Albon.

Albon - the favourite for a Toro Rosso F1 seat for next year - now trails Russell by 41 points as he could only manage eighth in qualifying, which means the British racer only needs to finish eighth to take the title in Saturday's feature race.

Mercedes F1 junior Russell earned a late reprieve with a final effort he described as "fantastic", as it deposed Prema Racing's Nyck de Vries who had run in the mid-session gap where drivers usually regroup in the pits and set a time good enough for the top spot.

Albon's DAMS team-mate Nicholas Latifi followed a similar strategy and took what was then second place.

But Russell's 1m49.251s gave him a two-tenth cushion over de Vries, with Latifi, who was told to abort his last lap with an undiagnosed issue, ending up 0.396s.

Artem Markelov took fourth - after improving his Russian Time machine's woeful handling from practice - with Russell's ART team-mate Jack Aitken rounding out the top five, his best qualifying since the Budapest round in July.

Louis Deletraz, recently announced as a Haas junior driver, warmed up for his test in the American F1's squad's current car next week with sixth, ahead of the McLaren-bound Lando Norris.

Norris had marvelled at Russell's practice pace and his claim that his fellow Briton would be tough to beat rang true.

Albon's title hopes now rely almost entirely on Russell having a problem in the feature race.

He ended up eighth, ahead of Tadasuke Makino and Norris's team-mate and now fellow McLaren junior Sergio Sette Camara, after locking up at Turn 8 and then jumping over the sausage kerb at the penultimate corner on his final run.

Makino showed strong pace throughout the session. He was baulked by the errant car of Campos Racing driver Luca Ghiotto early on, but recovered to set a respectable late lap.

Red Bull F1 junior and double Macau Grand Prix winner Dan Ticktum out-qualified his new Arden team-mate - and potential future Super Formula rival - Nirei Fukuzumi, in his first ever F2 qualifying session.

Ticktum finished 14th quickest and was 0.4s up on Fukuzumi, who was 19th.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 George Russell ART Grand Prix 1m49.251s 10
2 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 0.290s 8
3 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0.396s 9
4 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 0.618s 9
5 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 0.695s 10
6 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.787s 9
7 Lando Norris Carlin 0.808s 10
8 Alexander Albon DAMS 0.904s 10
9 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 0.929s 9
10 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 0.936s 10
11 Niko Kari MP Motorsport 1.124s 10
12 Roberto Merhi Campos Vexatec Racing 1.262s 10
13 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 1.271s 9
14 Dan Ticktum BWT Arden 1.329s 10
15 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1.561s 10
16 Alessio Lorandi Trident 1.604s 10
17 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 1.641s 10
18 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 1.786s 10
19 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 1.797s 9
20 Arjun Maini Trident 2.346s 10

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Series FIA F2
Drivers George Russell
Author Jack Benyon
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