Merhi loses pole after penalty; Rowland starts from P1

Spaniard Roberto Merhi was penalised two spots on the grid after being found guilty of impeding another driver during Sunday’s qualifying session at Jerez.

The Zeta Corse driver was due to start from pole position for the season finale of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season but drops to third place, with Oliver Rowland moving up into pole position, while Pierre Gasly moves up onto the front row of the grid.

Gasly and Merhi are embroiled in a close battle for second place in the Drivers’ Championship behind Carlos Sainz Jr, with only three points separating the Zeta Corse driver from the Arden Motorsport driver ahead of this afternoons final race of the season.

Rowland’s promotion to the pole means he has taken three pole positions in his rookie season in the series, having moved up from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series where he finished second a year ago to Gasly, meaning that twelve months on from their last race shootout for the title, which Gasly won, the two rivals sit on the front row of the grid in the 3.5 litre cars.

Unfortunately for Fortec Motorsports driver Rowland, he sits 24 points behind Gasly in the championship, and needs to win and hopes his French rival retires to snatch third place in the standings, although second place is out of reach for the Briton.