Prior to the summer break, Charles Leclerc secured his seventh consecutive Formula 2 pole at Hungary, however, when it was found that he was using a part that did not comply with technical regulations, he was disqualified from the overall qualifying result. This left him hungry for a pole position when F2 returned to Belgium, aiming to make it seven poles in eight rounds in 2017.
Charles Leclerc claims seventh pole at Belgium
Heading into qualifying, Leclerc looked like the man to beat as usual after topping practice for Prema Racing. His nearest challenger was his team mate, Antonio Fuoco, who was only 0.138 seconds slower than Leclerc’s best time. Oliver Rowland and Artem Markelov followed the Prema pair in third and fourth fastest for DAMS and Russian Time, aiming to spoil the Italian team’s Friday and carry momentum into Saturday’s Feature Race.
What was a rubbered-in circuit earlier in the day became a green circuit for qualifying, with heavy rain soaking the circuit. This forced drivers to run on the wet compound tyre, with intermediates not being available to Formula 2 teams in 2017.
After multiple lap times were set, it became apparent that qualifying was going to be a game of track evolution, with times improving every time a lap was set as the conditions improved. After the first runs of the session, Charles Leclerc was the pace setter, almost one second faster than Oliver Rowland who was his nearest challenger followed by Nicholas Latifi and Gustav Malja.
With six minutes to go and the conditions set to deteriorate further, the field took to the track for their final runs of the session, and there was a flurry of lap times as the 20 competitors placed their bids to secure pole. With three minutes remaining, the red flag waved for Sergio Sette Camara, who spun his Campos Racing car. This brought about a temporary pause to the session which would continue with just over three minutes left on the clock.
When the checkered flag waved, no one was able to challenge Leclerc and the Monégasque secured another pole position, handing him a near perfect record in qualifying this season. Nicholas Latifi was his nearest challenger, and the Canadian secured his first front row start in the series. Oliver Rowland rounded a DAMS 2-3 in third place while Gustav Malja impressively put his Racing Engineering car into fourth on the grid.
A pole position for Leclerc highlights his strength and pace heading into Saturday’s Feature Race. The Monégasque driver will settle for nothing less than a win this weekend after two disappointing races at Hungary as he continues on his hunt to win the championship. Nicholas Latifi will also be dreaming of victory tomorrow, hoping that he can claim his second F2 win this weekend.
Qualifying results for the Belgian Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 2:20.842
- Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 2:21.510
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 2:21.578
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 2:22.069
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 2:22.073
- Nyck de Vries, Racing Engineering, 2:22.534
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 2:22.952
- Roberto Merhi, Rapax, 2:23.132
- Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 2:23.180
- Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 2:23.409
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 2:23.424
- Santino Ferrucci, Trident, 2:23.459
- Louis Deletraz, Rapax, 2:23.470
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 2:23.737
- Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 2:23.788
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 2:24.127
- Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 2:24.215
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 2:24.437
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 2:25.039
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 2:27.008