With the Red Bull hierarchy keeping a close eye, Yuki Tsunoda did himself no harm in FIA Formula 2 qualifying by taking his second pole position of 2020 at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Japanese driver has been touted for a race seat at AlphaTauri in 2021 and it’s performances like this that explains why. He beat second-placed Nikita Mazepin by just over one tenth of a second as he looks to move his way up from fourth in the championship standings.
The championship is currently led by UNI-Virtuosi’s Callum Ilott but the Brit, who had previously qualified in the top three at every race this season, could only manage twelfth fastest meaning he may have to switch his focus to the reverse grid for his best chance of a good haul of points.
MP Motorsport won both races at Catalunya a fortnight ago and they will be over the moon with their qualifying as Nobuharu Matsushita was a season-best third with Felipe Drugovich fifth for the Dutch squad.
They will start either side of Ilott’s main championship rival Robert Shwartzman who will hope to make the most of his big starting advantage over Ilott in Saturday’s feature race.
Ilott’s teammate Guanyu Zhou fared better with the sixth best time but the Chinese driver is still yet to stand on the top step of an F2 podium despite his obvious pace since his debut in 2019. He lines up ahead of Mick Schumacher and Louis Delétraz who occupy row four.
Tsunoda has had the measure of his Carlin teammate Jehan Daruvala so far and proved so again with the Indian ninth fastest, alongside Luca Ghiotto who completed the top ten.
Dan Ticktum missed practice due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test but with the results of a second coming back as negative, he was able to take to the wheel of his DAMS car and qualified in fourteenth, ahead of the likes of Jack Aitken and Christian Lundgaard who were very disappointing in seventeenth and eighteenth respectively.
Juri Vips was selected as the driver to replace Sean Gelael at DAMS after the Indonesian suffered spinal injuries in an accident at Catalunya but he was unable to set a lap, stopping at Les Combes, meaning he will start his first race in F2 from the back of the grid, just behind Guilherme Samaia who also had to stop on track before setting a lap with a fire at the back of his Campos.
|2||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||1:57:721|
|3||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||1:57:844|
|5||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||1:58:014|
|10||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||1:58:168|
|19||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||1:59:207|
|20||Guiliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||2:02:991|
|21||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||NO TIME|
|22||Juri Vips||DAMS||NO TIME|