F3 Euroseries points leader Roberto Merhi secured his 4th pole position of the 2011 season this afternoon, as the Prema driver edged out team-mate Daniel Juncadella by over a tenth in the dying minutes of qualifying. Morning practice pace-setter and 2011 ‘F3 Master’ Felix Rosenqvist will line up 3rd behind the Spanish pair – and will undoubtedly be hoping for another calamitous start for Prema team-mates after they tangled off the line at the Zandvoort circuit in August.
Merhi and Juncadella took it in turns to top the time-sheets throughout the session, the compatriots nearly half a second clear of the chasing pack. With only 5 minutes of the session left, a change onto fresh tyres for Merhi allowed him to grab pole, breaking the 1:52s barrier in the process and demoting Juncadella to 2nd. As both Merhi’s fastest and 2nd fastest lap-times were quicker than Juncadella’s or indeed anyone else’s, the championship leader bags poles for the 1st and 3rd race of the weekend, giving the 20 year-old the perfect chance to further increase his championship lead.
“After my first set of tyres, with which it didn’t go so well, we made some changes on the car.” Merhi said, “After that, it was much better and I was able to do good lap times. With a Formula 3 car, this track is much fun, you can enter the corners really fast and you feel at the limit all the time.”
Juncadella also commented: “Pole position was my goal, but second place isn’t a problem for me either. My tyre-saving driving style is very good for this circuit, so I am very optimistic for the three races here. In other series, I was never quick at Silverstone and I didn’t particularly like the circuit as a result. Perhaps, that will change this weekend.”
Felix Rosenqvist will also have an unexpected guest alongside him on the 2nd row in the form of Motopark’s Kimiya Sato. The Japanese driver snatched 4th from Marco Wittmann with less than a minute to spare to record his best ever F3 qualifying position. Guest driver Marco Sorensen managed a strong 6th for MÃ¼cke Motorsport, ahead of Gianmarco Raimondo in 7th. Signature’s Carlos Munoz and Daniel Abt line up 8th and 9th respectively, with Jimmy Eriksson completing the top 10.
It was a disappointing session for regular front-runner Laurens Vanthoor, who struggled to a lowly 11th, 1.4 seconds off Merhi. Alon Day also endured a difficult session, the Israeli driver only able to complete 5 laps due to technical gremlins.
1. Merhi – 1:52.868
2. Juncadella – 1:53.036
3. Rosenqvist – 1:53. 444
4. Sato – 1:53.931
5. Wittmann – 1:53. 940
6. Sorensen – 1:53.992
7. Rainmondo – 1:54.080
8. Munoz – 1:54.086
9. Abt – 1:54.110
10. Eriksson – 1:54.318
11. Vanthoor – 1:54.330
12. Day – 1:55.876
Round 19 – Race 1 – Begins at 12:10 BST on Saturday