Leclerc takes last gasp Pole in Red Flag affected Quali

2016 GP3 Series Round 7 Autodromo di Monza, Italy. Saturday 3 September 2016. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service. ref: Digital Image _SBB7592

As the GP3 Series returns to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, championship leader Charles Leclerc set the pace on Saturday morning qualifying. He had shown speed earlier in the session, though he had been on course for only a third row start before his late blast.

A red flag caused by the stopped Giuliano Alesi, halted the drivers with three minutes to go. The young Frenchman suffered a failure on the main straight stopping on the run up to the first braking zone.

By this point in the session, Jack Aitken had worked his way to the top. His countryman and Arden International team-mate Jake Dennis sat second having forfeited a potential pole lap in order to help Aitken. Dennis had been on top and thought he’d get another chance, though he too was affected by the red flag.

The drivers were careful not to cool down too much, maintaining the heat in their tyres for a final run. None knew this better than Leclerc who maintained his heat to take pole by 0.166 seconds. Dennis, was quick to respond but could only manage second which pushed Aitken to third.

Alexander Albon had been one of the first out of the pits and was quick to try to improve on his provisional second place, though fell to fourth as the chequered flag flew.

Behind him on the grid, Jake Hughes, who crossed the line first, could only manage fifth as he lined up alongside team-mate Kevin Jorg. In seventh was Nirei Fukuzumi, the ART Grand Prix driver had struggled to perform and will be happy with a top eight.

Meanwhile, local driver Antonio Fuoco could only salvage eighth. The Italian had been on course for a strong result, but failed to improve in the final run, dropping four places.

Hughes will drop to eighth on the grid due to a penalty carried over from last weekend’s Belgian round, and thus falls behind Jorg, Fukuzimi and Fuoco.

Elsewhere, a crash between Arjun Maini and Artur Janosz hindered both of their sessions. Janosz was deemed to have not been watching his mirrors and will start from the pit lane, while Maini will line up nineteenth.