Prema Powerteam’s Esteban Ocon secured a double-pole series in today’s 2nd qualifying session for the 73rd Pau Grand Prix.
The Frenchman will line up with yet another Mücke Motorsport car alongside him on the front row, with Felix Rosenqvist heading Max Verstappen (van Amersfoort).
As with yesterday, Ocon and Verstappen dominated ‘Group A’ (for cars with even numbers). Where many in the first group registered laps in the 1’11-range, the leading pair were quick to break that barrier, with the French Ocon setting a 1:10.587 after eight minutes. Verstappen immediately improved on that time by two-tenths, only for Ocon to go another tenth faster on his following tour.
Thereafter both drivers continued to improve their pace, but Verstappen was never quite able to topple Ocon – his best of 1:10.192s eventually proved too much for Verstappen who was a mere 0.057s shy of pole.
Ocon was understandably delighted with the result. “Once again, my car was great. I did two good laps that were closer to the limit than in first qualifying. I knew that this was what I had to do, because the track was better for the second group. Eventually, it was really close with Felix Rosenqvist, but it was enough. So far, the weekend has been perfect for me, but there are still two races to go and I have to do my utmost.”
Jake Dennis once again underlined his improvement by clocking up the 3rd fastest time. The Carlin driver spent almost the entire session following Ocon and Verstappen in the times, but was always several tenths shy. The Briton would eventually record a quickest lap of 1:10.647, earning Dennis a two-tenths advantage over Dennis van de Laar.
While not perfect, Dennis knows places can be gained in the race itself. “It’s alright for us, we started fifth this morning for the first race and we gained a position so I know we can do something from there. I have a better set of tyres for tomorrow too so that’s a positive and although overtaking is very hard here I think we can move forward and get a podium. We can definitely be pleased because it’s another solid qualifying and we’re closing the gap to those ahead.”
John Bryant-Meisner, Ed Jones and Gustavo Menezes were the next fastest in ‘Group A’, while Tatiana Calderon assumed the 8th quickest time; however her session ended with four minutes remaining, when he clipped the barrier going through Foch.
The temperatures dipped slightly for the second session. Both Rosenqvist and teammate Lucas Auer were immediately on the pace, with the former heading the times after eight minutes after registering a best of 1:10.767.
Auer beat that effort by one-tenth moments later, only for Rosenqvist to pull together a tour two-tenths quicker upon his next tour. Rosenqvist went quicker still on his next lap, clocking up a circuit in 1:10.197; a time some three-and-a-half tenths up on the next quickest driver come the chequered flag.
In the end, that would not be Auer. The Austrian hit a brick wall of pace in the final third of qualifying and could not improve on his top lap of 1:10.615; dropping Auer down to 6th in the group. Instead Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam Carlin) was the next man on the time sheets, following a late qualifying battle with Antonio Giovinazzi, Mitch Gilbert and Jordan King; all of whom jumped Auer before the flag.
Like his Carlin stablemate Dennis, Blomqvist is well aware that he needs to capitalise from the line. “I’m hoping to get a good start as that is really the best place that you can gain and lose positions. We’re looking to capitalise from there and see how it goes. We have a little bit of time still to find but I think if we stay out of trouble and make no mistakes we can have another good race.”
Following a good performance in the first qualifying session, Latifi could do not better than 7th, placing him above Felix Serralles and Antonio Fuoco in the order.
Spike Goddard showed some positive improvements in this session and was running in the top-sic for a time; however a late session crash at Foch curtailed his running, giving the T-Sport mechanics much to do on a Saturday night.
At this time, Ocon is on pole for race three, with Rosenqvist and Verstappen once again lining up behind the Frenchman.
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 3, Provisional Grid Race 2, Pau) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.192 2. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke-Mercedes 1:10.197 3. Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:10.249 4. Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.547 5. Jake Dennis Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.647 6. Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.561 7. Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.841 8. Mitch Gilbert Fortec-Mercedes 1:10.579 9. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec-Mercedes 1:11.141 10. Jordan King Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.599 11. Ed Jones Carlin-Volkswagen 1:11.242 12. Lucas Auer Mucke-Mercedes 1:10.613 13. Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:11.244 14. Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.667 15. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:11.289 16. Felix Serralles West-Tec-Mercedes 1:10.758 17. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller-Mercedes 1:11.407 18. Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.806 19. Felipe Guimaraes Double R-Mercedes 1:11.458 20. Riccardo Agostini EuroInternational-Mercedes 1:10.808 21. Alexander Toril ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:11.839 22. Spike Goddard ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:10.826 23. Michele Beretta EuroInternational-Mercedes 1:12.062 24. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:11.379 25. Hector Hurst West-Tec-Mercedes 1:12.287 26. Roy Nissany Mucke-Mercedes 1:12.617
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 3, Provisional Grid Race 3, Pau) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.265 2. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke-Mercedes 1:10.300 3. Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:10.315 4. Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.603 5. Jake Dennis Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.828 6. Mitch Gilbert Fortec-Mercedes 1:10.614 7. Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.930 8. Lucas Auer Mucke-Mercedes 1:10.639 9. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec-Mercedes 1:11.251 10. Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.691 11. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:11.289 12. Jordan King Carlin-Volkswagen 1:10.722 13. Ed Jones Carlin-Volkswagen 1:11.400 14. Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.801 15. Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam Carlin-Volkswagen 1:11.437 16. Riccardo Agostini EuroInternational-Mercedes 1:10.959 17. Felipe Guimaraes Double R-Mercedes 1:11.574 18. Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam-Mercedes 1:10.092 19. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller-Mercedes 1:11.624 20. Felix Serralles West-Tec-Mercedes 1:10.423 21. Alexander Toril ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:11.916 22. Spike Goddard ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:10.425 23. Michele Beretta EuroInternational-Mercedes 1:12.138 24. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen 1:11.780 25. Hector Hurst West-Tec-Mercedes 1:12.400 26. Roy Nissany Mucke-Mercedes 1:12.639