F2 Bahrain: McLaren F1 junior Norris pips Mercedes' Russell to pole

McLaren Formula 1 reserve Lando Norris stormed to the first pole position of the 2018 Formula 2 season ahead of Mercedes junior George Russell in Bahrain

F2 Bahrain: McLaren F1 junior Norris pips Mercedes' Russell to pole

In the first qualifying session with the new F2 2018 car, reigning European Formula 3 champion and Carlin driver Norris delivered a lap of 1m41.761s on his final run, despite running wide at the last turn.

It ended a thrilling battle with his fellow Briton and ART Grand Prix driver Russell, who wound up 0.062 seconds adrift, as Alexander Albon completed the top three for DAMS.

A number of drivers ran wide at Turn 15 - the final right-hander in Bahrain - across the session.

These included Russell during his early flying laps, as the drivers struggled to get to grips with the new 3.4-litre V6 turbocharged engine and the low temperatures, with the session running under floodlights at the Sakhir circuit.

Russell headed the times after the initial running had been completed and he improved again after the mid-session lull.

Albon - currently only on a one-race deal with DAMS - also improved his best but could not shade Russell, before both were shuffled down by Norris.

Leaving it until the last minute to leap up the order was Nyck de Vries, who came from session-long obscurity to place Prema Racing in the top four.

McLaren junior de Vries, starting his second season in F2, had spent most of qualifying, and the earlier practice session, outside of the top 10, but moved up with his final flying lap.

Another late surge came from Louis Deletraz, who gave the new Charouz Racing System team a top five on its F2 debut.

Sergio Sette Camara struggled to match the pace of team-mate Norris late-on, despite spending the majority of the session inside the top four, and ended up sixth ahead of the top Arden driver, Nirei Fukuzumi.

Tadasuke Makino (Russian Time) and ART's Jack Aitken - the Renault F1 reserve who had also run in the top four early-on - qualified eighth and ninth respectively.

Maximillian Gunther set the fastest time at the F2 pre-season test in Bahrain last month, and had been as high as second after his final effort, but as others went faster he was pushed down to 10th.

One notable absentee from the pole position fight was Artem Markelov.

The Russian Time driver and 2017 F2 runner-up had a problem that stagnated his running in practice, and he struggled for performance in qualifying.

He also ran wide at the final turn on his final lap and could only manage 17th out of 20 runners.

Markelov won the feature race at the same circuit last year.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 Lando Norris Carlin 1m41.761s 10
2 George Russell ART Grand Prix 0.062s 10
3 Alexander Albon DAMS 0.089s 10
4 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 0.119s 11
5 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.413s 9
6 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 0.460s 11
7 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 0.485s 10
8 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 0.503s 10
9 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 0.521s 11
10 Maximilian Guenther BWT Arden 0.575s 9
11 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 0.581s 11
12 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 0.653s 9
13 Roberto Merhi MP Motorsport 0.662s 11
14 Arjun Maini Trident 0.676s 9
15 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0.686s 10
16 Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport 0.699s 10
17 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1.055s 11
18 Santino Ferrucci Trident 1.057s 11
19 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1.255s 8
20 Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 1.589s 9


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F2 Bahrain: Lando Norris takes dominant win in season opener

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