Callum Ilott in the sole Sauber Junior Team car running this weekend in the FIA Formula 2 round at Monza claims his first-ever pole position in the series for Saturday’s feature race.
The British driver took advantage in qualifying as the conditions proved to be tricky for the seventeen runners this weekend. Ilott placed a 1:33.887 in the session when the conditions were at its best, securing his and the team’s first pole position. Two red flags occurred during the session, but the Ferrari Academy driver did enough in the session to secure pole.
Sauber are running this weekend a sole entry as Juan Manuel Correa is recovering following on from the events that happened at Spa-Francorchamps. Trident and BWT Arden are too running a sole entry for the weekend.
UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Guanyu Zhou captured second place ahead of ART Grand Prix‘s Nikita Mazepin, delivering his best qualifying performance so far in his rookie season. The Russian driver managed to beat his team-mate and current championship leader Nyck de Vries, who ended the session with the fourth-best time.
The session started with changeable conditions around the Monza circuit, with the session declared wet, but the majority of the field made the call to use slicks, with Arden’s Tatiana Calderón starting on the wet tyres. de Vries opted to use the super soft tyres on his opening run, but locked up heavily at the opening turn.
de Vries set the opening lap to go fastest, but Luca Ghiotto with his first official time surpassed the Dutchman. Both Ghiotto and de Vries improved in their second lap, but both were quickly dispatched by multiple drivers.
Nobuharu Matsushita, Ilott, Sérgio Sette Câmara, Mazepin and Jack Aitken jumped ahead of the pair as the track began to improve. Calderón on the wets returned to the pits to fit a set of slicks as her gamble to use the wet tyres proved to the incorrect. Ilott in his second hotlap managed to place the fastest time with a 1:33.887 to go ahead of Zhou and Mazepin with 20 minutes of the session left.
Matsushita lost control of his car at the Variatine chicane, beaching on the gravel at the exit of the chicane. The red flag was brought out as the marshals cleared away the Carlin, ending Matsushita’s session. The Japanese driver was fifth at the time of the red flag.
The session resumed with 19 minutes remaining, with a number of cars heading onto the track in an attempt to complete a lap in the gap. But with 16 minutes left, Calderón spun at the Ascari chicane, resulting in a second red flag. The Colombian driver hadn’t set a lap time and sat seventeenth in the standings.
Japanese driver Marino Sato during the red flag and by the scene of the accident spun at the exit of the corner. Sato however, was able to resume running and return to the pits.
The session once again resumed with 16 minutes left, as the conditions changed with drizzle hitting the track in some areas. Some of the field were caught out during their hot laps at the Variatine chicane, ruining their chances to improve their times with the session nears the final ten minutes.
With six minutes left, parts of the track began to dry with the drivers improving in sector one and three but were caught out in the second sector. Ilott still sat on provisional pole as the session reached near its conclusion.
Majority of the field couldn’t find improvements in their time as the chequered flag waved to conclude the session. Ilott, who set his time before the red flags occurred, claimed pole position as the only entry for the Sauber team. The Brit will join alongside Zhou in second, with rookie Mazepin in third starting alongside his team-mate de Vries.
Sette Câmara rounded off the top five ahead of Matsushita and Nicholas Latifi. Jordan King for MP Motorsport ended in eighth place ahead of Mick Schumacher and Louis Delétraz. Italian driver Ghiotto delivered promising pace in practice but struggled in qualifying around his home circuit. He starts the race from fourteenth place behind Aitken.
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