Wickens snatches Race 1 pole at Spa Carlin Motorsport's Robert Wickens secured pole position for the first race of the weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday morning, with the Canadian driver posting a time of 2:02.855 in the closing moments of the session to steal the top spot. Albert Costa also made a late surge to claim second, while Jean Eric Vergne had to settle for third place.
It was an incident packed session.
Despite the calm weather conditions, the Belgian venue played host to some drama in the closing stages of Qualifying 1. Ricciardo went out on new rubber, got caught out at the top of the Raidillon and hit the guardrail. Out came the red flag and Race Control applied the law to the letter cancelling the Australian’s best time. The cars restarted but not for long as the red flag came out again after André Negrao’s (International Draco Racing) accident.
As the session got back underway for a final time, personal best efforts from Wickens and EPIC Racing’s Costa saw them jump ahead of early pace setters Ricciardo and Vergne. It got worse for F1 hopeful Ricciardo who eventually slipped back to sixth when Nelson Panciatici and Brendon Hartley jumped to fourth and fifth respectively.
Daniil Move was next up in seventh, just over a tenth ahead of Spain’s Sergio Canamasas. Chris van der Drift claimed a promising ninth place as he continues to make progress on his return to motorsport, with Jan Charouz rounding out the top ten.
Championship leader Alexander Rossi could only manage 11th in a disappointing qualifying session for the American. His Fortec teammate did even worse, so the team is struggling.
The outcome of the battle for pole was decided in the last two laps. Wickens put in a flyer in 2m 02.855s to knock his team-mate off pole, while Albert Costa got up to third and improved to second last time round. After an exciting session the first three were Wickens, Costa and Vergne.
Robert Wickens: “Our car was exceptional and it’s great to have two Carlin drivers in the top three. I was behind Jean-Eric and I took advantage of his slipstream especially in sector three. It’s another pole for me and now I have to turn it into a victory.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I made a mistake and it’s my fault. I went out on new tyres and I wanted to get past the cars in front of me so as not to be caught up in traffic. I locked up my brakes, end of story. I finished in sixth place. It’s not ideal but it could have been worse.”
||Chris van der Drift
||Daniel de Jong