F3 - Rookie driver Lando Norris takes two further pole positions

20.05.17

F3 - 2017 Race of Pau - Qualifying report

FIA, Motorsport, Racing, F3, F3 Europe, Race of Pau

Lando Norris (Carlin) posted the fastest lap time in second qualifying of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit of Pau in the south of France. The protégé of the McLaren Formula 1 team will be starting from pole position for the eighth race of the season as a result. Behind him, Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam), Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam), Joel Eriksson (Motopark), Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix) and Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix) will be following in second to sixth place. For the starting grid positions of race three of the meeting at Pau, the traditional ‘Grand Prix de Pau’, the order at the front of the starting grid is Norris from Günther, Ilott, Eriksson, Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing).

Because of the length of the track at only 2.76 kilometres, the field was split up into two groups for qualifying. The driver with the outright fastest time would be on pole position, with the fastest driver of the slower group second on the grid. Then, the other members of the respective qualifying groups would be lining up behind their fastest driver, with the left-hand row of the grid consisting of the drivers from one group and the right-hand row of drivers from the other group. As usual in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, the fastest lap time by each driver is the basis for the starting grid positions for race two. The classification of the second-fastest laps is used to determine the starting grid positions for the third race.

Starting grid race two

The drivers in group B were the first to head out onto the track at the foot of the Pyrenees. Lando Norris (1m09.085s) moved up into first place at an early stage already, but lost this position when he returned to the pits around the halfway point of the session. Initially, Ralf Aron (1m09.693s) was the first to go faster than Norris and then, Callum Ilott (1m09.609s), Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin, 1m09.801s), David Beckmann (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1m10.055s) and Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1m09.910s) also moved ahead of the Brit. With seven minutes remaining, the Carlin driver struck back with another fastest lap time and thus claimed first place. In the remainder of the session, he was able to improve his lap time over and over again, so that his first place in the group was never under threat. Lining up behind the rookie driver are Callum Ilott, Ralf Aron, Harrison Newey (1m09.752s), Ferdinand Habsburg and Jehan Daruvala (Carlin, 1m09.828s).

After a short break, group A was next, with Nikita Mazepin (1m09.610s), Joel Eriksson (1m09.550s) and Jake Dennis (Carlin, 1m09.703s) as the main actors in the opening stages. Around the halfway point, rookie driver Joey Mawson (1m09.746s) moved up into the lead for the first time, only to be toppled again by stalwart Jake Dennis soon after that. However, the Brit’s joy didn’t last long either, because Maximilian Günther (1m09.435s) took the lead with five minutes remaining. Nikita Mazepin was the only other driver to take a brief spell in the lead, but the German claimed it back straight away. Joel Eriksson only moved up into second place in the final stages, followed by Mazepin, Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix, 1m09.689s), Dennis and Mawson.

The fastest driver in group B, Lando Norris eventually secured pole position for the second race at Pau, because his best lap time was faster than Günther’s.

Starting grid race three

For the legendary Grand Prix de Pau, the youngsters from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will be lining up in the following order on the first ten grid positions: Norris (1m09.308s), Günther (1m09.450s), Ilott (1m09.728s), Eriksson (1m09.723s), Newey (1m09.767s), Mawson (1m09.750s), Aron (1m09.834s), Mazepin (1m09.785s), Habsburg (1m09.896s) and Hughes (1m09.790s).

Lando Norris (Carlin): “I think we had the perfect strategy with the tyres today. After four laps, I got two new slicks on the left-hand side. This tactic turned out to be perfect. After yesterday’s qualifying, we also made some changes on the car that were very effective for me. I really felt confident in the car, especially as I had also been able to gain some more experience at this track in the race this afternoon.”