Qualifying in Formula 2 this season has been a tale of one man in his red machine, who has been aiming to secure a near perfect streak in pace over the course of one lap. Last weekend in Belgium, this pace was perfect and Charles Leclerc stormed to a seventh pole in eight rounds for Prema Racing. Being a Ferrari Academy Driver and Monza being the team’s home race, the Monégasque driver was looking for a good result at the track that arguably could be classed as his second home race.
Nobuharu Matsushita claims maiden F2 pole at Monza
Prior to qualifying, Artem Markelov set the race for Russian Time and fronted a 1-2 for the team, with Luca Ghiotto setting the second fastest lap. Leclerc meanwhile, was only third fastest, meaning that it was a game of catch up heading into qualifying after an untypical messy session for the driver.
When the pit lane went green, all 20 drivers headed out on track, fronted by Alexander Albon who was the first driver to join the circuit. After the first runs of the session were completed, Nobuharu Matsushita set the fastest lap and claimed provisional pole while Nyck de Vries was his nearest challenger, setting the second fastest time for Racing Engineering. Louis Deletraz was third fastest while Leclerc was only fifth, just under half a second off the pace.
With eight minutes remaining, Norman Nato led the field out of the pit lane for the final runs of the session. An immediate spin from Nabil Jeffri however, meant that the session was red flagged, with the Malaysian driver stalling his Trident car, unable to rejoin qualifying.
The session was restarted with six minutes left and the drivers left the pit lane for a third and final time for the final runs of the session. After the field managed to set one flying lap, the session was red flagged for a second time, with Santino Ferrucci suffering from a rear suspension failure.
With few being able to improve and there not being enough time to set one more lap, Nobuharu Matsushita secured his maiden Formula 2 pole for ART Grand Prix, bringing about the end to Charles Leclerc’s dominance in qualifying. Nyck de Vries was Matsushita’s nearest challenger and will start alongside him on the front row of the grid. It was a very impressive qualifying for Louis Deletraz, who, by qualifying in third, secured his best qualifying result of the season.
Charles Leclerc only managed to qualify in seventh place while his championship rival, Oliver Rowland, qualified in 13th. With the championship contenders out of place on the grid, Saturday’s Feature Race is expecting to be an exciting battle for the win out on track. Nobuharu Matsushita will be looking to add another win to his current tally while Deletraz will be sniffing at the prospect of securing his maiden F2 podium.
Qualifying results for the Italian Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 1:30.982
- Nyck de Vries, Racing Engineering, 1:31.071
- Louis Deletraz, Rapax, 1:31.239
- Artem Markelov, ART Grand Prix, 1:31.266
- Roberto Merhi, Rapax, 1:31.323
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 1:31.355
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 1:31.378
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 1:31.426
- Santino Ferrucci, Trident, 1:31.482
- Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 1:31.511
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 1:31.529
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 1:31.653
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 1:31.711
- Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 1:31.747
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 1:31.772
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 1:31.878
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 1:31.942
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 1:32.171
- Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 1:32.267
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 1:32.373