Roberto Merhi and Nigel Melker both earned the chance to start from pole position this weekend, as the F3 Euroseries enters its penultimate weekend at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
Current championship leader Merhi aims seal the 2011 title in front of his home crowd with 1 meeting to spare, and duly set the fastest time of the session in the final few minutes, meaning young Spaniard will start on pole for the 3rd race of the weekend.
Nigel Melker was set for his first double pole of the season with 3 minutes remaining, but an extra 0.087s from Merhi cut his celebrations short. Melker’s 2nd fastest time was quicker than Merhi’s though, putting the Dutch rookie on pole for the opening race.
Felix Rosenqvist ran close to the leading pair throughout, but eventually had to settle for the second row of the grid, though less than a tenth behind Merhi’s race 1 time.
Daniel Juncadella managed a 4th and 5th after missing out on half of the session due to mechanical issues – he’ll line up alongside Laurens Vanthoor for races 1 and 3.
Merhi’s closest championship rival however, Marco Wittmann, struggled to only 6th and 7th, putting himself on the backfoot in the race for championship runner-up and making Merhi’s chances of taking an early title even more likely.
Merhi only needs to score 16 points in Valencia to take the championship before the season’s finale at Hockenheim, but despite a pole and a 2nd place, Merhi was slightly underwhelmed: “Qualifying was OK, but I had expected a little bit more. My car felt well, but nevertheless, the lap times were not at the level I had hoped. I am still happy with my first and second place. These are still good positions from which to win the race.”
Melker had a similar tale – both drivers believing there was more time to be found: “I am happy with second place and a pole position, but it could still have been better. On my second-fastest lap, I had a couple of slight mistakes and with my first set of tyres, it didn't yet go well. With the second set, I knew what I had to do better.”