The Formula Renault FR 3.5 qualifying session at Spa Saturday morning got off to a flying start. Kevin Magnussen immediately went quickest while Richie Stanaway had an off at Malmedy leading to a red flag.
After the restart the drivers came in to put on new rubber just after the halfway mark. Magnussen was quickest in 1m 58.314s in front of Marco Sorensen and Alexander Rossi.
Sam Bird, the championship leader, then upped the pace. His first flyer was in 1m 58.226s which he improved to 1m 57.492s next time round.
But finally he was pipped at the post by Magnussen and in 1m 57.423s, and the McLaren Development Program driver took the first pole of his career in FR 3.5. It is also the first time this season that a rookie will start from pole.
Kevin Magnussen: “I said yesterday that I couldn’t make the slightest mistake if I wanted to set a good time. I have to say without being too pretentious that my lap this morning was perfect! It’s great to set pole on this circuit that really sorts out the men from the boys. The championship won’t be decided today, and while it’s true I’m on pole I’ll have to see the flag as I need points.”
Sam Bird: “I didn’t have the greatest session. I kept running into traffic. On my quickest lap I passed a car in the second sector, which doesn’t help when you want to set a time, and I made a tiny mistake in the final chicane. We know we have a good race car. There’s no point for pole so it’s essential to be on the front row.”
Marco Sorensen: “Here it’s not like Monaco, you can pass! My aim was to be in the top five and starting from third is perfect. I pushed a bit too hard on my flying lap. I was too hard on the tires and I felt the effect of this on the car in the last sector.”
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