The 17-year-old rookie was fastest of his qualifying group and as nobody in the other group managed to beat his time.
In second qualifying of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit in Pau, Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) continued where he had stopped after the first race: in first place. The 17-year-old rookie was fastest of his qualifying group and as nobody in the other group managed to beat his time, the Lotus F1 junior driver will be starting from pole position for the second race.
Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), the best-placed driver of the second group, will be starting from second place, followed by Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). Ocon will also be starting from pole position in the second race on Sunday (race three of the weekend), because he also drove the best second-fastest lap time. Rosenqvist, Verstappen and Blomqvist will be second, third and fourth on the grid for the ninth FIA Formula 3 European Championship season round.
Group B (even starting numbers) - Starting grid race 2
Group B qualifying turned out into a duel of the two rookie drivers Esteban Ocon (1:10.192 minutes) and Max Verstappen (1:10.249 minutes). Initially, Verstappen topped the time sheets, until Ocon had completed his first flying lap with eleven minutes remaining. The 16-year-old Dutchman countered successfully and ranked ahead of the Frenchman again. A little bit over eight minutes before the end, Ocon managed to improve his time again as well and thus secured first place on the grid. Jakes Dennis (Carlin, 1:10.647 minutes) ended up third, followed by Dennis van de Laar (Prema Powerteam, 1:10.841 minutes), John Bryant-Meisner (Fortec Motorsports, 1:11.141 minutes) and Edward Jones (Carlin, 1:11.242 minutes) in fourth to sixth place. Four minutes before the end, Tatiana Calderón (Jo Zeller Racing, 1:11.407 minutes) hit the Armco barriers and caused a brief interruption. The only lady racer in the field ended up ninth in qualifying.
Starting grid race 3
Esteban Ocon (1:10.265 minutes) also came out on top in the ranking of the second-fastest lap times. Max Verstappen (1:10.315 minutes), Jake Dennis (1:10.828), Dennis van de Laar (1:10.930 minutes) and John Bryant-Meisner (1:11.251 minutes) also claimed identical positions as in the ranking of the fastest laps. Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) was classified seventh.
Group A (odd starting numbers) - Starting grid race 2
Just before the halfway mark, Felix Rosenqvist (1:10.197 minutes) moved up into first place in his group and was only toppled briefly by Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:10.613 minutes) in the remaining minutes, but countered successfully. While Rosenqvist remained on top, Auer dropped back more and more and had to make do with sixth place in his group. Tom Blomqvist (1:10.547 minutes) claimed second place from Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:10.561 minutes), Mitch Gilbert (Fortec Motorsports, 1:10.579 minutes) and Jordan King (Carlin, 1:10.599 minutes). This session was interrupted, too, after Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport, 1:10.826 minutes) couldn’t avoid crashing into the tyre stacks with four minutes remaining. Eventually, he was classified eleventh in his group.
Starting grid race 3
Swede Felix Rosenqvist (1:10.300 minutes) was also unbeatable in the ranking of the second-fastest laps in his group. Tom Blomqvist (1:10.603 minutes) was classified second from Mitch Gilbert (1:10.614 minutes), who was only 0.011 seconds slower than the Brit. Lucas Auer (1:10.639 minutes), Antonio Giovinazzi (1:10.691 minutes) and Jordan King (1:10.722 minutes) rounded out the first six positions.
Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “Once again, my car was great. I did two good laps that were closer to the limit than in first qualifying. I knew that this was what I had to do, because the track was better for the second group. Eventually, it was really close with Felix Rosenqvist, but it was enough. So far, the weekend has been perfect for me, but there are still two races to go and I have to do my utmost.”