The weather conditions were still fresh when the pitlane opened and the drivers fed onto the track on Pirelli Medium tires. Already fast in this morning’s practice session, Johnny Cecotto quickly topped the standings, dipping under 1m58s, but Palmer was able to find a clear lap to break the 1m57s barrier. The Briton clocked in a laptime of 1:56.857 – five tenths quicker than Vandoorne then in P2.
Another rookie looked hungry for glory in the name of Raffaele Marciello: the mighty Italian improved on his first set of tires to move up to second with a laptime of 1:57.237. Halfway through the session, the drivers returned to the pits for a fresh pair of tires. They rejoined the track with ten minutes left on the clock. This morning’s fastest man Julian Leal was on a mission and improved on the first two sectors, but he hit traffic in the final sector thus reducing his efforts to naught.
In the dying minutes, Palmer seemed to have done enough to claim another pole position this season, but Vandoorne put his head down and found some extra pace to edge the Briton out of the top spot by 0.018s. At the checkered flag, Evans took third spot ahead of Marciello, Cecotto, Leal, Nathanael Berthon, Simon Trummer, Marco Sorensen and Stéphane Richelmi.
With the weather forecast being uncertain and the demands of the Belgian track leaving no room for driver error, tomorrow’s feature race promises to be a cracker.
Spa-Francorchamps – Qualifying Session
|1.||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||1:56.839||10|
|3.||Mitch Evans||RT RUSSIAN TIME||1:57.057||11|
|4.||Raffaele Marciello||Racing Engineering||1:57.237||13|
|7.||Nathanael Berthon||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:57.272||12|
|9.||Marco Sorensen||MP Motorsport||1:57.389||11|
|12.||Arthur Pic||Campos Racing||1:57.516||10|
|13.||Daniel De Jong||MP Motorsport||1:57.706||11|
|14.||Tom Dillmann||EQQ8 Caterham Racing||1:57.770||11|
|15.||Conor Daly||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:57.788||12|
|16.||Stefano Coletti||Racing Engineering||1:57.844||11|
|17.||Rene Binder||Arden International||1:57.851||12|
|18.||Daniel Abt||Hilmer Motorsport||1:57.875||13|
|19||Rio Haryanto||EQ8 Caterham Racing||1:57.974||12|
|20.||André Negrao*||Arden International||1:58.002||12|
|22.||Kimiya Sato||Campos Racing||1:58.185||10|
|23.||Jon Lancaster||Hilmer Motorsport||1:58.218||13|
|25.||Artem Markelov||RT RUSSIAN TIME||1:58.470||10|
|26||Takuya Izawa||ART Grand Prix||2:40.364||2|
*André Negrao will lose five grid places following a penalty picked up after Budapest Sprint Race.