Oliver Bearman took feature FIA F2 race pole in Spa-Francorchamps after rain stoppage, as Joseph Maria Marti taking in F3.
Oliver Bearman didn’t waste a second from the get-go as he stormed to his third pole position of his rookie season. A torrential downpour mid-session meant the field had one shot at pole and the Briton put it all together with a 2:05.736 as the rain began to fall.
PREMA Racing took their first 1-2 Qualifying result of the season as Championship leader Frederik Vesti claimed his spot on the front row. ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins secured another top three start in third. Starting out on a drying track and with the forecast predicting heavy rain, the field were out of the pits as soon as possible.
Before anyone could complete a timed lap, the Red Flag was deployed three minutes into the session after Joshua Mason found the gravel trap at Turn 9. It was a race against time once green flag conditions resumed, with all-bar Kush Maini opting to gamble on the slicks.
Having been advised by his team to finish every lap possible as he led the field back onto the track, Vesti skirted his way around the narrow dry line to clock in a 2:06.199. Carving out a path for his teammate behind, Bearman took full advantage, going fastest by 0.463s.
The PREMA duo were in the right place at the right time as rain began to fall heavily in Sector 3, leaving those behind with little hope of beating the Briton’s lap. Clocking in two purple sectors on his next lap, Bearman continued to go quicker. However, with conditions in the final sector too wet to improve, the Ferrari Academy junior’s job was done. The field headed into the pits to wait out the final 20 minutes of running, as the expected downpour arrived in earnest.
Martins’ sole effort managed to slot the Frenchman into third for his fourth-consecutive top three start ahead of Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney and Théo Pourchaire. Dennis Hauger popped himself up into sixth ahead of Ralph Boschung, Enzo Fittipaldi, and Richard Verschoor. After securing the all-important P10 spot, Jehan Daruvala will line up on pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race. Lights go out at 13:45 local time.
#F2 #BelgianGP Qualifying results, which started dry(ish) so all drivers, bar Kush Maini, went out on slicks. And then, with 20 minutes to go, the rain came down again. The top 10 gets reversed to set the grid for tomorrows SprintRace, #MsportXtra @circuitspa @F2Inside pic.twitter.com/2v9OaA3lMB
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) July 28, 2023
Josep María Martí pulled off one of his best Qualifying performances of the season, taking his second pole position of 2023 at a crucial moment in the Championship fight. Leaving his best to last, the Campos Racing driver took the top spot by just 0.016s ahead of Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli. Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Gabriele Minì completed the top three, just under a tenth down on the pole time.
Grégoire Saucy picked up from where he left off in Practice, going fastest early on with a 2:26.165 to set the time for everyone to beat. Zak O’Sullivan went close, just 0.085s down to go second fastest in the opening exchanges. After sliding off into the gravel on his first flying lap, Kaylen Frederick was next to go to the top, setting a 2:26.077 with just under 10 minutes gone. Saucy retook the top spot very briefly until Nikola Tsolov bested his time with a 2:25.814 to make it an early 1-2-3 for ART Grand Prix.
That was broken quickly though with Paul Aron able to take P1 for PREMA Racing as track conditions improved lap after lap. Caio Collet was next to go fastest by just 0.002s from Aron with a 2:25.697 in his Van Amersfoort Racing car. Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto lowered the time to beat to a 2:25.180 just before everyone returned to the pits to reset ahead of the final flying laps.
Into the final six minutes of Qualifying and Saucy went back to the top as the track dried rapidly. Further improvements moved Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning into the top five before Bortoleto lifted himself up to fourth heading into the last minutes.
The PREMA teammates denied one another the top spot in succession but it was O’Sullivan that was the quickest of the trio. The Briton had been 20th after a laptime deletion but rebounded to usurp his teammates with a 2:22.551 to go onto provisional pole.
That didn’t last long though as Gabriele Minì pulled out a 2:22.254 at the chequered flag to take P1 until Martí went 0.094 better, on a 2:22.160 for pole. Leonardo Fornaroli was the last across the line but couldn’t beat the Campos driver, finishing just 0.016s down on the pole man.
Minì completed the top three ahead of Franco Colapinto, who made a late improvement to fourth. Tsolov was the lead ART driver in the end with P5 ahead of O’Sullivan, Beganovic, Jonny Edgar, Collet and Taylor Barnard in the top 10.
Championship leader Bortoleto will start from 15th in both races, pushed down from reverse grid pole in the final seconds. Instead, Hugh Barter will start from reverse pole after ending Qualifying 12th, and he’ll have Aron alongside him on the Sprint Race front row after the PREMA driver finished up 11th.
#F3 #BelgianGP Qualifying results, which started wet but started to dry up a bit towards the end. The top 12 gets reversed as the starting grid for tomorrows SprintRace. #MsportXtra @circuitspa pic.twitter.com/43g81I5Wlm
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) July 28, 2023
[Note: The story is as per press release]