ART Grand Prix‘s Alexander Albon closed the gap to his team-mate Charles Leclerc to 25 points, after claiming the four points for pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit. The GP3 Series leader Leclerc could only qualify in fifth while fellow title challenger Antonio Fuoco found himself down in eleventh.
The Arden International pairing of Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken completed the top three.
As the session got underway, Albon immediately set the early pace before being bettered by Dennis by two tenths before he was surpassed by Nyck de Vries.
Albon pushed on but could only go as well as to splitting the two for P2 before the Arden driver reclaimed the spot. Series leader Leclerc’s best efforts earnt him third position for the first part of qualifying just a mere 0,005s faster than the Thai driver.
Dennis found some extra time but was still a way off the McLaren junior sitting on provisional pole.
When the cars returned to track after heading into the pitlane for fresh rubber and set up changes, Dennis lit the timing screen up to go quickest by almost half a second but was once again beaten by Albon who went to the top spot by two tenths.
Leclerc was also on a charge, lighting up sector one but failed to make an improvement of his lap. Dennis was also giving it his all on his final run but backed off after realised it would not be enough to beat Albon. As the chequered flag dropped Aitken shot up to third place.
At the end of the final GP3 qualifying session of 2016, Albon took pole position and thus also closed the gap to Leclerc. Dennis grabbed his third front row start of the season and Aitken completed the trio. De Vries qualified fourth ahead of team-mate Leclerc. Santino Ferrucci, Arjun Maini, Kevin Jörg, Steijn Schothorst and Nirei Fukuzumi completed the top ten.
Race 1 takes place at 12.25 local time on Saturday, where Leclerc can be crowned champion.
Yas Marina Circuit Qualifying Results
POS NO. DRIVER NAT TEAM TIME 1 3 Alexander Albon THA ART Grand Prix 1m55.274 2 9 Jake Dennis GBR Arden International 1m55.514 3 11 Jack Aitken GBR Arden International 1m55.604 4 4 Nyck de Vries NED ART Grand Prix 1m55.629 5 1 Charles Leclerc MON ART Grand Prix 1m55.660 6 26 Santion Ferrucci JPN DAMS 1m55.678 7 20 Arjun Maini IND Jenzer Motorsport 1m55.683 8 28 Kevin Jörg SUI DAMS 1m55.892 9 23 Steijn Schothorst NED Campos Racing 1m55.981 10 2 Nirei Fukuzumi JPN ART Grand Prix 1m56.094 11 5 Antonio Fuoco ITA Trident 1m56.145 12 6 Arjun Janosz MAS Trident 1m56.154 13 22 Alex Palou ESP Campos Racing 1m56.155 14 14 Matthew Parry GBR Koiranen GP 1m56.256 15 7 Giuliano Alesi FRA Trident 1m56.361 16 24 Konstantin Tereschenko RUS Campos Racing 1m56.563 17 8 Sandy Stuvik NED Trident 1m56.570 18 10 Tatiana Calderon COL Arden International 1m56.729 19 18 Akash Nandy MAS Jenzer Motorsport 1m56.732 20 27 Jake Hughes GBR DAMS 1m56.995 21 16 Matevos Isaakyan RUS Koiranen GP 1m57.513 22 19 Alessio Lorandi ITA Jenzer Motorsport No Time