18-year-old Macau GP first timer George Russell (Hitech GP) was thirteenth fastest in the first qualifying session for the FIA F3 World Cup and thirteenth again in this morning’s warm-up practice.
But in the final two minutes of qualifying , after a red flag period which halted the field, he stormed to a lap record undercutting 2min10.1sec lap to claim pole for tomorrow’s 10 lap qualification race for the FIA F3 World Cup.
Russell’s time , hailed by him as his “best ever lap”, was the more impressive as drops of rain had begin to fall on an already slippery Guia track which had brought out caution flags on the notorious Lisboa corner.
Russell had already claimed fastest time on the previous lap from fellow 18-year-old Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort) who had been on top of the time sheet for most of the session .
Russell’s rationale for going even faster typified the courage and commitment of the young F3 field: “ I knew I was already on pole so if I crashed I’d still be on pole. They can always fix the car.”
Ilott was second with a time of 2min10.47 secs from 25-year-old former race winner and comparative veteran Antonio Felix da Costa (Carlin) 2min10.501.
German Maximillian Gunther, second in the European F3 Championship , escaped injury when he crashed his Theodore Racing Prema car on the high speed Mandarin corner triggering one of three red flag periods involving Japan’s Daiki Sasaki (B-Max) and India’s Arjun Maini (Motopark) .
Defending Macau GP champion Felix Rosenqvist (Prema) who had been third in the first session of qualifying slipped to eighth in the qualifcation race decider.
The qualification race will decide grid positions for Sunday’s inaugural 15 lap FIA F3 World Cup.
FIA Press Release