Felix will start the opening FIA Formula 3 European Championship race of the weekend at Imola from fifth on the grid, after an untimely red-flag stoppage forced him to abandon a charge for pole position in the closing stages of Friday qualifying.
The grid-deciding session served to further emphasise the challenges of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, on a week so far littered with off-track excursions. After a sequence of red flags throughout testing and practice, it wasn’t long until qualifying followed the same pattern, with Sean Gelael spinning off at Variante Villeneuve with seven minutes remaining.
As the session restarted, Felix (sitting fifth after the first runs) worked himself more and more into contention, and had just set a personal best - just fractions off pace-setter Esteban Ocon’s benchmark - through the first two sectors when the red flags flew again as Alexander Toril crashed his ThreeBond with T-Sport machine on the exit of Rivazza. Felix had to abandon his lap (as did many others) and, with just two minutes remaining, there would be no further improvements barring a last-second flyer from Jordan King that took the Englishman up to third.
Ocon held on to pole on home soil for Prema Powerteam, with Italian favourite Antonio Giovinazzi second*. Behind King, Tom Blomqvist followed in fourth, with Max Verstappen fifth – just one hundredth of a second ahead of Felix in sixth.
Verstappen, however, will have to serve a ten-place grid penalty for the first two races of this weekend following an engine change at the last round in Germany, leaving the Toro Rosso F1-man-to-be 15th and promoting Felix to fifth.
Felix spearheaded the Mücke Motorsport armada, with Lucas Auer next up for the Berlin squad in ninth and Roy Nissany struggling to 20th.
Race 1 is set to be run tomorrow morning.
*NOTE: After the session, Giovinazzi also picked up a penalty, dropping the Italian three places on the Race 1 grid. As a result, Felix will start the race from fourth, one slot ahead of Giovinazzi.
“It was a shame about that second red flag, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it cost us too much. I was on a lap that was meant to be my quickest and which would have yielded a clear improvement, but I’m sure the others have similar feelings. We could probably have been a bit further up the grid, but I doubt we’d have found half a second. The car is quite a handful to drive around here - that’s why we’ve had quite a lot of offs – but I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow and we’re definitely in contention for the podium.”
RESULTS (grid for Race 1)
|1||2||Esteban Ocon / FRA Prema Powerteam||13||1’36.479||183,174|
|2||19||Antonio Giovinazzi / ITA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin PENALTY||6||1’36.611||0.132|
|3||5||Jordan King / GBR Carlin||14||1’36.890||0.411|
|4||31||Tom Blomqvist / GBR Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||6||1’36.973||0.494|
|5||30||Max Verstappen / NED Van Amersfoort Racing PENALTY||7||1’37.006||0.527|
|6||27||Felix Rosenqvist / SWE kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||11||1’37.016||0.537|
|7||28||Jake Dennis / GBR Carlin||7||1’37.031||0.552|
|8||25||Antonio Fuoco / ITA Prema Powerteam||6||1’37.125||0.646|
|9||3||Lucas Auer / AUT kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||5||1’37.147||0.668|
|10||1||Nicholas Latifi / CAN Prema Powerteam||13||1’37.187||0.708|
|11||20||Sean Gelael / INA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||7||1’37.375||0.896|
|12||26||Dennis van de Laar / NED Prema Powerteam||6||1’37.481||1.002|
|13||21||Félix Serrallés / USA Team West-TecF3||5||1’37.491||1.012|
|14||16||Gustavo Menezes / USA Van Amersfoort Racing||7||1’37.564||1.085|
|15||18||Tatiana Calderón / COL Jo Zeller Racing||5||1’37.592||1.113|
|16||15||Jules Szymkowiak / NED Van Amersfoort Racing PENALTY||6||1’37.659||1.180|
|17||23||William Buller / GBR||5||1’37.679||1.200|
|18||6||Edward Jones / UAE Carlin||5||1’37.758||1.279|
|19||32||Nick Cassidy / NZL ThreeBond with T-Sport||6||1’37.775||1.296|
|20||4||Roy Nissany / ISR kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||7||1’37.925||1.446|
|21||12||Alexander Toril / ESP ThreeBond with T-Sport||5||1’37.926||1.447|
|22||11||Richard Goddard / AUS ThreeBond with T-Sport PENALTY||7||1’38.105||1.626|
|23||10||Santino Ferrucci / USA Fortec Motorsports||6||1’38.363||1.884|
|24||9||Hongwei Cao / CHN Fortec Motorsports||6||1’38.415||1.936|
|25||29||Sergio Sette Camara / BRA Eurointernational||6||1’38.609||2.130|
|26||8||Michele Beretta / ITA Eurointernational||7||1’38.825||2.346|
|27||22||Wing Chung Chang / MAC Signature||8||1’39.292||2.813|