Carlin’s Nobuharu Matsushita Captures First Pole Since F2 Return Around Baku

by Aaron Gillard
Nobuharu Matsushita - Carlin - Baku

Carlin Motorsport’s Nobuharu Matsushita claims his first pole position since his return to the FIA Formula 2 series around the streets of Baku.

The Japanese driver set the second fastest time in practice in Azerbaijan and was able to go one better in qualifying with a 1:54.555, stealing the pole away from ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries in their final lap. It’s the Japanese driver’s first pole position since his return to the series after spending a year away racing in his home country. Matsushita’s last pole in F2 came at Monza in 2017.

The Dutch driver finds himself on the front row once again with the second best time, beating championship leader Luca Ghiotto. The UNI-Virtuosi Racing driver was on course to claim his second pole in a row after setting the fastest time during the first stage of qualifying, but the Italian couldn’t beat de Vries or Matsushita’s time seconds before the chequered flag.

DAMSSérgio Sette Câmara set the fourth best time of the session, beating MP Motorsport‘s Jordan King. Mick Schumacher will start the feature race on Saturday in sixth place. Bahrain feature race winner Nicholas Latifi will start from seventh place, with Jack Aitken in the Campos Racing sharing the fourth row with the Canadian.

French rookie Anthoine Hubert improved on his time during the final minutes of qualifying to go ninth fastest, ahead of Trident‘s Ralph Boschung who rounds off the top ten.

Formula 2 qualifying suffered a 30 minute delay due to the FIA making circuit safety checks around the Baku City Circuit. During Free Practice 1 for Formula 1, George Russell ran over a loose drain cover, causing damage to his car. Whilst the marshals returned the stranded and damaged Williams car, the crane attached to the truck hit a bridge, causing a leak spilling onto Russell’s car. The marshals and stewards did inspections throughout the circuit to ensure all man hole covers are secured and safe to drive on.

The qualifying session began with all the cars heading out on track to get their first round of laps in. But during the first timed laps, Sean Gelael stopped on track by Turn 8, causing a red flag. The marshals pushed the Indonesian driver and eventually was able to return to the pits, but the issue with his car meant he was unable to set a qualifying time.

After the restart, King headed out onto the track and set the first initial time with a 1:57.213. Juan Manuel Correa followed in second place with his first time, falling short to the British driver by over two seconds.

de Vries quickly dispatched the MP Motorsport car and set the fastest time in his first run with a 1:55.490 ahead of Matsushita, Sette Câmara and Hubert. Ghiotto in the Virtuosi placed the quickest time and pushed de Vries down to second place, with the Italian setting a 1:55.468.

All cars retreated to the pits for new tyres and prepare for their second and final run. With seven minutes remaining, both ART drivers lead a train of cars to the track as they aim to improve their lap times.

de Vries improved to take provisional pole whilst Ghiotto attempted to take the pole away, but wasn’t successful. Moments after Ghiotto completing his lap, Matsushita was successful in snatching the pole away from the Dutch driver with a 1:54.555.

The Japanese driver secured his first pole in the series since Monza in 2017, when he was racing with ART. The Japanese driver will be hoping to capture his first win with Carlin and his first win in the series since the Hungary sprint race.

PositionCar NumberTeamDriverNATTime
12Carlin MotorsportNobuharu MatsushitaJPN1:54.555
24ART Grand PrixNyck de VriesNED1:54.999
38UNI-Virtuosi RacingLuca GhiottoITA1:55.037
45DAMSSergio Sette CamaraBRZ1:55.677
516MP MotorsportJordan KingGBR1:55.704
69PREMA RacingMick SchumacherGER1:55.797
76DAMSNicholas LatifiCAN1:55.835
815Campos RacingJack AitkenGBR1:55.949
919BWT ArdenAnthoine HubertFRA1:56.138
1021TridentRalph BoschungCHE1:56.153
1111Sauber Junior Team By CharouzCallum IlottGBR1:56.215
121Carlin MotorsportLouis DeletrazCHE1:56.326
137UNI-Virtuosi RacingGuanyu ZhouCHI1:56.454
1420TridentGiuliano AlesiITA1:56.555
153ART Grand PrixNikita MazepinRUS1:56.568
1614Campos RacingDorian BoccolacciFRA1:56.653
1712Sauber Junior Team By CharouzJuan Manuel CorreaUSA1:56.936
1818BWT ArdenTatiana CalderonCOL1:58.164
1917MP MotorsportMahaveer RaghunathanNED2:00.747
2010PREMA RacingSean GelaelINON/A

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