Theo Pourchaire dominates F2 qualifying in Bahrain with dominant pole, as Gabriele Mini was on top in F3 qualifying.
The F2 qualifying in Bahrain saw ART’s Theo Pourchaire set the benchmark early on with a 1m41.530s lap as he led veteran Ralph Boschung in the Campos Racing and the Frenchman’s teammate and reigning F3 champion Victor Martins in the Top 3.
DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc was fourth from MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger. In a different strategy, Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan went early for his second run from seventh. A slight lock-up left him only fourth with no chance of finishing in the Top 3 at all.
The second run for the rest saw decimation from Pourchaire who set a 1m40.903s lap which was 0.751s quicker than teammate Martins with the rest three in the Top 5 adrift by 0.9s each. The Frenchman took first F2 pole for feature race in Bahrain.
Martins was second from Van Amerstoor Racing’s Richard Verschoor as Hauger and Prema’s Frederik Vesti rounded the Top 5 who were within a second of Pourchaire’s time. Campos Racing’s Kush Maini dida good job in sixth from the DAMS pair.
It was Ayumu Iwasa ahead of Arthur Leclerc, as Trident’s Roman Stanek and Campos’ Boschung rounded the Top 10 where the Swiss driver will be on the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race. MP Motorsport’s Jehan Daruvala missed on that in 11th.
#F2 #BahrainGP Provisional results of qualifying, which sets the grid for the feature race on Sunday. For tomorrow's sprint race, the top 10 gets reversed. Today, Theo Pourchaire was in a league of his own. #MsportXtra @BAH_Int_Circuit @F2Inside pic.twitter.com/PVUOl5keLo
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) March 3, 2023
Gabriele Minì began his Formula 3 career in knockout fashion, storming to his first pole position on his Championship debut in Sakhir. The Hitech Pulse-Eight driver’s late effort of 1:47.055 couldn’t be matched, as less than half a second separated the top 17 runners.
With the track rubbered in and temperatures cooling around the Bahrain International Circuit, track evolution meant the drivers needed to adapt quickly in the 30 minutes available. Minì immediately threw down the gauntlet to his rivals. Clocking in a benchmark 1:47.844, the Hitech Pulse-Eight’s pace was electric as his teammate Sebastian Montoya slotted up into second.
It was clear the field were pushing it to the limit and beyond, as Bortoleto momentarily took the top spot. However, the Brazilian driver became the first of many drivers to fall foul of track limits.
Opting to run mid-session, PREMA Racing’s Dino Beganovic and Zak O’Sullivan took turns in the P1 spot momentarily, before the highest-placed returning driver from last season – Caio Collet, put Van Amersfoort Racing on provisional pole with a 1:47.670.
Times continued to tumble, as Minì launched himself half a second clear of Collet. Laying down a 1:47.118, the Alpine junior’s improvements showed no signs of stopping. With three minutes remaining, he delivered once more with a 1:47.055.
The order continued to chop and change, with a flurry of purple sectors flooding in as the session drew to a close. The PREMA trio rose up into the top six, with Beganovic ahead of rookie teammate Paul Aron and O’Sullivan. After his earlier efforts had been wiped away due to track limits, Bortoleto was a man on a mission. The Trident driver launched himself up to second, 0.057s off Minì’s untouchable lap.
Grégoire Saucy’s consistent and impressive pace from testing continued, getting his sophomore season off to a strong start in third ahead of Trident’s Oliver Goethe. Hugh Barter’s decision to leave it late paid off, as the Campos Racing driver snatched fifth at the chequered flag ahead of Kaylen Frederick and Leonardo Fornaroli.
Rookies Beganovic and Aron took eighth and ninth, whilst Collet ultimately had to settle for 10th ahead of Campos Racing’ Josep María Martí. Williams junior Franco Colapinto will be eager to start the season with a victory when he lines up on reverse grid pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
#F3 #BahrainGP Qualifying results. Lots and lots of times were deleted due to tracklimits. But here's the provisional grid for the Sprintrace wher the top 12 of today will be reversed. Top 20 within 1 second. #MsportXtra @BAH_Int_Circuit pic.twitter.com/JxJcaVOSdw
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) March 3, 2023
More to come