F2 Spa: Nyck de Vries seals pole as red flag ruins rivals' laps

Nyck de Vries took pole position at Spa and extended his Formula 2 championship lead after a late red flag ruined many frontrunners' chances, including title rival Nicholas Latifi

F2 Spa: Nyck de Vries seals pole as red flag ruins rivals' laps

De Vries was tipped to dominate after scoring a hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and victory last year at a weekend he calls his home race due to the proximity to the Netherlands.

The ART Grand Prix driver was fastest in the first sector of the first group of flying runs but, just as most of the field worked through the second sector, Ferrari junior Callum Ilott ground to a halt with a throttle problem and caused a red flag.

It ended a six-round run of qualifying in the top 10 for the Sauber Junior Team driver.

In what was a last-lap showdown, as the track improved and teams were able to make mid-session changes, De Vries delivered a lap one second quicker than his prior benchmark at the end of the session.

But drama at Pouhon ruined a proper battle for pole.

Juan Manuel Correa, Ralph Boschung and Sean Gelael all went off track on their flying efforts and the red flag was waved once more with Gelael in the barrier.

DAMS' Sergio Sette Camara made it through before the red flag to jump up to second, ahead of Jack Aitken and Nobuharu Matsushita - who appeared quick enough for pole but locked up at the penultimate corner.

Matsushita's Carlin team-mate Louis Deletraz rounded out the top five.

Mick Schumacher - winner of the most recent F2 race in Hungary - and de Vries's ART team-mate Nikita Mazepin also made it through and they took sixth and seventh ahead of MP Motorsport's Jordan King.

But King was deemed to have not slowed down enough under a yellow flag and a three-place grid penalty was applied, meaning he will start 11th.

The Virtuosi Racing team's tactic of running further back had worked well, as top F2 rookie Guan Yu Zhou was third and less than a tenth behind de Vries after the first flying laps.

But that running position meant they were caught out by the red flag and Zhou ended up eighth, one spot ahead of his title-challenging team-mate Luca Ghiotto.

Williams Formula 1 junior Latifi said his car was "[expletive] horrible" on the first run after suffering from understeer - despite taking the second-fastest time in practice on the medium tyre.

Latifi qualified 11th after being caught out by the red flag and he now trails de Vries by 34 points with eight races remaining, but he now starts 10th after King's penalty.

F2 rookie Marino Sato managed 17th in his first appearance with Campos Racing, the Euroformula Open title contender lapping 2.8s off the pace.

Mahaveer Raghunathan had qualified 19th and 2.922s off the pace, but falls to 20th and the back of the grid.

The stewards also deemed that he did not slow down enough for a yellow flag, like his team-mate King.

Qualifying result

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 1m58.304s 8
2 Sergio Sette Camara DAMS 0.272s 8
3 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 0.481s 8
4 Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin 0.528s 8
5 Louis Deletraz Carlin 0.606s 8
6 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 0.837s 7
7 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 0.838s 8
8 Jordan King MP Motorsport 1.062s 9
9 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi 1.121s 7
10 Luca Ghiotto UNI-Virtuosi 1.310s 7
11 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1.443s 7
12 Giuliano Alesi Trident 1.657s 8
13 Anthoine Hubert BWT Arden 1.701s 7
14 Ralph Boschung Trident 1.726s 7
15 Juan Manuel Correa Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1.946s 9
16 Sean Gelael Prema Racing 2.023s 6
17 Marino Sato Campos Racing 2.881s 10
18 Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 2.922s 10
19 Tatiana Calderon BWT Arden 4.920s 8
- Callum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz - 1



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