Reigning BRDC British Formula 3 champion Enaam Ahmed will start the European F3 Championship finale, the historic Pau Grand Prix, in pole position by virtue of his second-fastest time.
That meant Renault Formula 1 junior Sacha Fenestraz’s pacesetting time in a wet second qualifying session was only good enough for fourth, because his second-best time trailed his rivals.
Fenestraz had emerged from a frantic last-lap scramble at the top of the pile, the Renault Formula 1 junior’s Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen pipping the Hitech GP-run Dallara-Mercedes of Ahmed by 0.003 seconds.
But on second-best times, Ahmed trounced Ralf Aron by 0.247s with Fenestraz fourth in the group.
Ahmed was a leading runner throughout the first group’s session, which was red-flagged midway through when pole contender Juri Vips piled into the barriers at Pont Oscar.
But Fenestraz was on a mission on the final lap, despite encountering Carlin team-mate Nikita Troitskiy at the Foch chicane – the Russian pulled over, but not without disturbing Fenestraz’s concentration.
“It didn’t help me,” said Fenestraz. “I saw him backing off, and I backed off just a little bit – he let me past in the chicane and I had to push a bit harder in the last sector.
“I’m really happy, [it’s] the second qualifying of my first season in F3, this car, and damp conditions at Pau; my second-best lap was, unfortunately, a little too slow.”
Hitech’s Ben Hingeley was quickest at the time of the red flag, but a new set of wet-weather tyres took too long to warm up before he pulled a third-row start out of the bag on the final lap, although his second-best effort was good only for the seventh row.
Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala was on a likely pole lap on the last tour, only to encounter Keyvan Andres in front of him, and he claimed fourth and third-row positions.
Jonathan Aberdein claimed two fifth-row positions for Motopark, with Aron only sixth on fastest times but second on second-bests.
The second group had wetter conditions, with Alex Palou emerging to take a double top – and ensure an all-Hitech front row for the Pau GP.
“I felt quite comfortable, and it was a shame our track was slower, but it feels like a pole,” said Palou.
Palou beat impressive Motopark rookie Fabio Scherer by 0.488s, who took two second-row slots.
Prema’s Marcus Armstrong ended up with third and fourth-row positions, while the Ma-con car was taken to fourth in group by Julian Hanses, although he drops to eighth on second-bests.
Motopark’s Red Bull Junior Dan Ticktum had driven a spectacular lap to temporarily deprive Palou of pole but promptly hurtled down the escape road at Gare, costing him the final two laps as he tumbled from the front row to the fifth.
Ticktum’s second-best time was good enough for the third row, ahead of Armstrong and Marino Sato.
First-race winner Guan Yu Zhou struggled to eighth and ninth-row grid positions.
Qualifying one result
|2||Enaam Ahmed||Hitech Bullfrog GP||Dallara/Mercedes||0.003s|
|3||Ben Hingeley||Hitech Bullfrog GP||Dallara/Mercedes||0.292s|
|6||Ralf Aron||PREMA Theodore Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||0.739s|
|7||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA Theodore Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||0.842s|
|9||Keyvan Andres||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||2.174s|
|–||Artem Petrov||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||6.006s|
Qualifying two result
|1||Alex Palou||Hitech Bullfrog GP||Dallara/Mercedes||1m25.104s|
|3||Marcus Armstrong||PREMA Theodore Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||0.545s|
|8||Guanyu Zhou||PREMA Theodore Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||1.291s|
|9||Mick Schumacher||PREMA Theodore Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||1.635s|