Robert Shwartzman took one more step towards the FIA Formula 3 championship title after grabbing pole position ahead of PREMA teammates Jehan Daruvala and Marcus Armstrong.
In sunny conditions, it was ART‘s Max Fewtrell who was the first driver to set a lap time going fastest with a 1:55.359 before it was beaten by Armstrong with a time of 1:54.098.
Championship leader Shwartzman went third fastest with a time of 1:54.296, while teammate and title rival Daruvala was stuck down in fifth place with a time of 1:54.699.
However, Trident‘s Niko Kari briefly went fastest with a brilliant time of 1:53.845 to stake his bid for pole position.
By the halfway point of the session, Armstrong was back on top of the times with a fastest lap of 1:53.785 down to the Kiwi setting a blistering final sector.
Kari tried hard to regain pole position but lost time in the final two sectors, scuppering his lap and giving Armstrong breathing space.
Blocking was one of the main stories of qualifying at Monza, where the session had to be red-flagged, and at Sochi, it would be a talking point once again. HWA‘s Jake Hughes complained of being blocked, referring it to the stewards..
Shwartzman responded to his teammate’s pace by going fastest with his time of 1:53.544, just over ten-tenths faster to put himself on provisional pole with just over ten minutes left of the session.
Kari hit back with a time of 1:53.191 sending him to the top of the timesheets for the time being ahead of Hughes and Trident teammate Pedro Piquet.
Kari’s pole time was easily beaten by Shwartzman whose lap of 1:52.840 regained the Russian the provisional pole.
Armstrong split the two championship rivals with a time of 1:52.853 agonisingly close to taking pole, whilst for Daruvala it was the second row with his time over a tenth of a second behind.
As the chequered flag fell, Daruvala responded with a time of 1:52.775 putting him on top for several seconds before Shwartzman smashed the Indian’s time by posting a time of 1:52.583 to take the final pole position of the F3 season.
As a result Schwartzman gained the four points that come with pole ahead of championship challenger Daruvala with Armstrong completing a PREMA clean sweep of the top three.
Kari was the best of the rest whilst Lundgaard and Hughes rounded out the top six.
F3 newcomers Hon Chio Leong and David Schumacher had a tough opening qualifying session with the German twenty-fifth and the Macanese driver was twenty-ninth.
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