F2, Monza: Doohan overcomes rivals to claim pole
In a highly competitive session
Jack Doohan took the third pole position of his rookie season, clocking in a 1:31.641 to pip Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong to the top spot. The Virtuosi Racing driver timed his pole lap perfectly, acing the final sector at the end having been quick all session long.
Liam Lawson showed he had the pace throughout to secure second, a tenth off the Alpine Academy Driver’s leading pace, whilst his compatriot Marcus Armstrong took third. Meanwhile, Felipe Drugovich edged ever closer to taking the title this weekend with fourth, as his nearest rival Théo Pourchaire had to settle for P14.
In stark contrast to Free Practice’s leisurely start, the majority of the field immediately peeled out of the pits in search of some clean air to lay down their initial push laps. Given Monza’s high-speed long straights, several drivers opted to try to get close enough to take advantage of the slipstream from those ahead.
Keeping in sync with the rest of the field worked well for Drugovich, who laid down a benchmark of 1:33.322. However, his hold on the top spot wouldn’t last long as Lawson leapt into the P1 spot, nearly four-tenths clear of Fittipaldi and his fellow Brazilian.
As the second attempts began flooding in, Lawson, Pourchaire and Logan Sargeant all momentarily took turns leading the way, but they were blown out of the water by Practice pacesetter Jüri Vips. Nailing his exit out of Parabolica, the Hitech Grand Prix driver made the most out of the tow from Ghiotto’s car to blast his way nearly half a second clear of the pack.
Doohan set out to make the most of his second flying lap on the soft Pirelli rubber and so he did, narrowly pipping Vips to the top spot by 0.053s. Whilst the field headed into the pits with the session approaching the halfway mark, the Australian’s 1:31.965 would be the time to beat.
The sun crept ever lower in the sky as the drivers poured back out onto the circuit with less than eight minutes remaining, it was a golden opportunity for the best times of the session to be set. Turning the timing screens purple and green, Iwasa, Drugovich, Armstrong and Lawson all momentarily went quickest before Doohan regained his hold on provisional pole by 0.126s.
Nevertheless, there were still improvements to be found in the final minutes of running. Iwasa looked to have left his best for last, being 0.175s up in the first sector alone. Yet it wasn’t to be, as a snap of oversteer sent the Japanese driver into the barriers at Turn 11 with just a minute remaining, denying any potential improvements behind him. As the chequered flag fell Doohan held on to pole ahead of Lawson, Armstrong and Drugovich.
Richard Verschoor got Trident’s home round off to a positive start as he claimed fifth, ahead of Jehan Daruvala and Iwasa. Vips had to settle for eighth, as Sargeant and Frederik Vesti rounded out the top 10, 0.386s off Doohan’s best performance.
The ART Grand Prix driver will be eyeing a return to the podium for the first time since the Le Castellet Feature Race when he lines up on reverse grid pole for the penultimate Sprint Race of his rookie campaign. The lights go out at 18:00 local time on Saturday.
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