McLaren F1 junior Stoffel Vandoorne takes Bahrain GP2 pole

McLaren Formula 1 junior Stoffel Vandoorne got his GP2 title bid off to the best possible start by taking pole position for the season-opener in Bahrain

McLaren F1 junior Stoffel Vandoorne takes Bahrain GP2 pole

Qualifying for the series took place 30 minutes after Formula 1 free practice had concluded, with Vandoorne immediately asserting himself by setting the pace on his first run.

He then improved on his second set of tyres to consolidate his position, ending up 0.308s faster than ART Grand Prix team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita to secure his fifth consecutive pole in the category.

Why GP2 could give McLaren a problem

Matsushita, making his GP2 debut after winning the Japanese Formula 3 crown last year, had been fifth fastest on his first run, but he made a step forward on his second run to relegate DAMS driver Alex Lynn to third.

Lynn had a disappointing first attempt, ending up ninth, but he leaped to second on his second before being shaded by Matsushita by just half-a-tenth.

Arthur Pic, Vandoorne's closest challenger on the first runs, was fourth fastest, three-hundredths slower than Lynn.

Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello, who has switched to Trident Racing this year, looked set to qualify down the order after getting stuck in second gear early on.

But the team got him back out and he was able to grab fifth late on, relegating Racing Engineering's Jordan King, another GP2 rookie, to sixth fastest.

Norman Nato jumped up to seventh in the closing stages of the session ahead of the second Racing Engineering car of Alexander Rossi, who had performed strongly in practice but was unable to replicate that form in qualifying.

Red Bull-backed Pierre Gasly pipped fellow Formula Renault 3.5 convert Sergey Sirotkin to the final place in the top 10 by just one-hundredth of a second.

The most improved driver since last year was Artem Markelov, the Russian driver running competitively throughout the session and taking 11th place ahead of Rio Haryanto.

Haryanto looked strong early in the session and was fourth-fastest on first-run times, but he failed to improve on his second set of soft Pirellis and slid to 12th ahead of Mitch Evans.

Carlin had a difficult session, with Julian Leal and Marco Sorensen 16th and 18th, and the team hopeful of showing stronger pace in race conditions.

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1m39.237s -
2 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1m39.545s 0.308s
3 Alex Lynn DAMS 1m39.599s 0.362s
4 Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1m39.630s 0.393s
5 Raffaele Marciello Trident 1m39.645s 0.408s
6 Jordan King Racing Engineering 1m39.770s 0.533s
7 Norman Nato Arden International 1m39.857s 0.620s
8 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1m39.872s 0.635s
9 Pierre Gasly DAMS 1m39.877s 0.640s
10 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 1m39.887s 0.650s
11 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1m39.955s 0.718s
12 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 1m39.961s 0.724s
13 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 1m39.999s 0.762s
14 Robert Visoiu Rapax 1m40.128s 0.891s
15 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1m40.251s 1.014s
16 Julian Leal Carlin 1m40.353s 1.116s
17 Sergio Canamasas MP Motorsport 1m40.434s 1.197s
18 Marco Sorensen Carlin 1m40.444s 1.207s
19 Andre Negrao Arden International 1m40.634s 1.397s
20 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1m40.653s 1.416s
21 Nathanael Berthon Lazarus 1m40.654s 1.417s
22 Rene Binder Trident 1m40.773s 1.536s
23 Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1m40.995s 1.758s
24 Zoel Amberg Lazarus 1m41.690s 2.453s


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GP2 Bahrain: McLaren F1 junior Stoffel Vandoorne wins race one

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