F2 Monza: Mercedes F1 junior Russell tops qualifying, Norris P7

Mercedes Formula 1 junior George Russell took four points for Formula 2 pole position for the feature race at Monza, extending his series lead to nine over Lando Norris

F2 Monza: Mercedes F1 junior Russell tops qualifying, Norris P7

Sergio Sette Camara quailed second, with Alexander Albon third.

Friday's qualifying session was defined by the tyres, as they were only good for one flying lap, the first, which meant the first flier out of the pits with eight of the 30 minutes remaining was key.

After what he described as his "toughest weekend of the year" in Spa, Russell bounced back perfectly from set-up issues in Belgium to take his fourth pole of the year with a 1m31.546s.

The ART Grand Prix driver did not bother with a second flying lap, and many of his rivals followed him into the pits knowing they could not improve their times.

Even better for Russell, Norris's qualifying struggles continued and as he ended up seventh for Carlin, putting five cars between him and Russell for Saturday's feature race.

Norris's team-mate Sette Camara - who has not been outside of the top five in qualifying since Paul Ricard in May - led the early running, but could not usurp Russell at the last and ended up 0.54s adrift.

Sette Camara's lap was all the more impressive as he set a purple final sector, despite running wide at the Parabolica and having no car in front to draft behind.

He had set a supreme early pace on his first run, having topped practice in tricky conditions earlier in the day, but with few drivers able to improve as the tyres went off on a second effort, the order remained set while drivers debriefed in the pits.

The threat of rain did not tempt any drivers out early for a second run, other than Dorian Boccolacci, who had not set a representative time at that point of the session.

He then suffered gearbox problems and could not set a representative time, ending up over 17 seconds down on Russell, with just an early installation lap on the board.

Albon - who is still in the title fight - qualified third off the back of a strong weekend at Spa, and heads Artem Markelov and Belgium sprint race winner Nicholas Latifi on the grid for Saturday's race.

Charouz Racing System racer Antonio Fuoco - a Ferrari Academy driver and last year's feature race winner at Monza - was sixth ahead of Norris, while Arjun Maini, Luca Ghiotto and Louis Deletraz rounded out the top 10.

The winner of the last two feature races, Nyck de Vries, had a nightmare qualifying session.

A throttle sensor broke on his car in practice, which meant he only got three laps of running in that session, and he could only improve to 11th on his final flying lap in qualifying in his Prema Racing-run machine.

Arden's Maxi Gunther, who ran out of fuel in practice, will start 19th after providing entertaining sideways action.

Results

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 George Russell ART Grand Prix 1m31.546s 10
2 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 0.054s 10
3 Alexander Albon DAMS 0.343s 10
4 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 0.376s 11
5 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0.475s 10
6 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 0.613s 8
7 Lando Norris Carlin 0.645s 10
8 Arjun Maini Trident 0.702s 10
9 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 0.800s 10
10 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.861s 10
11 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1.020s 11
12 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 1.135s 10
13 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 1.189s 11
14 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 1.204s 11
15 Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 1.255s 10
16 Alessio Lorandi Trident 1.257s 11
17 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1.367s 11
18 Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport 1.419s 11
19 Maximilian Guenther BWT Arden 1.950s 10
- Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 17.040s 4

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