Roberto Merhi - Photo Credit: F3Euroseries.com
0

Merhi Beats Juncadella to 2011 F3 Masters Pole

Roberto Merhi just edged out team-mate and countryman Daniel Juncadella to claim pole position for the Masters of F3 2011 at Zandvoort, as rain interfered with Saturday’s 2nd and final qualifying session. The Prema Powerteam drivers were separated by merely 0.008s, and were 3 tenths clear of fellow F3 Euroseries rival Felix Rosenqvist.

Unknown to the field, only the laptimes set in the 1st qualifying session earlier on Saturday could be used to decide the starting grid for Sunday’s feature race. Continuing his impressive pace from morning practice, Merhi shaved just over a second off his quickest time to unseat Juncadella and claim provisional pole. Rosenqvist set the 3rd fastest time of the session – overcoming strong challenges from Nigel Melker, Marco Wittmann and British Formula 3 competitor Kevin Magnussen.

Wittmann would end up 4th quickest overall ahead of Magnussen, with Melker slipping to 6th overall in the closing stages. Laurens Vanthoor will start from 7th place with Carlin’s Rupert Svendsen-Cook right behind. Daniel Abt was half a second back in 9th, just ahead of British F3′s Lucas Foresti.

The wet conditions in the afternoon slowed laptimes by almost 18 seconds, making each of them somewhat redundant and guaranteeing the F3 Euroseries and FIA Formula 3 International Trophy points leader pole position. It also secured an all F3 Euroseries top 4, and gives both Merhi and Juncadella to score the best F3 Masters result for their country Рwith the record currently held by Jordi Gen̩ (older brother of Marc Gen̩), who finished 2nd in 1991.

“I am really happy about this pole position, because things weren't going well for me in qualifying for the Formula 3 Euro Series' race here three months ago.” Merhi said, “On my fastest lap, I even made a slight mistake, but it was still good enough for pole. Now, my clear goal is to become the first Spanish driver to win the Masters.” 

Juncadella commented afterwards: “Too bad that I am only second, because the gap with Roberto is only minimal at 0.008 seconds. Our car is really quick and I think that Roberto and I should be able to end up first and second when everything runs as planned. I only hope that I will be the one in front, because I don't want to be second at the Masters.”

Sunday’s Masters Race Begins at 2:30pm Local Time (BST +1) German TV station N-TV will also be broadcasting the race live from the Dutch venue. 

Results:

  1. Merhi – 1:30.750
  2. Juncadella – 1:30.758
  3. Rosenqvist – 1:31.055
  4. Wittmann – 1:31.266
  5. Magnussen – 1:31.295
  6. Melker – 1:31.411
  7. Vanthoor – 1:31.530
  8. Svendsen-Cook – 1:31.599
  9. Abt – 1:31.914
  10. Foresti – 1:31.933
  11. Derani – 1:32.096
  12. Jaafar – 1:32.123
  13. Munoz – 1:32.315
  14. Eriksson - 1:32.526
  15. Huertas – 1:32.529
  16. Sato – 1:32.694