Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “I didn’t expect these two pole positions, but we worked really hard during the winter and in the official test sessions."
Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) secured themselves the pole positions for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season opener at the 5.891 kilometres long Formula 1 circuit at Silverstone in the UK. In first qualifying, Blomqvist beat rookie driver Esteban Ocon by the minimal margin of 0.002 seconds. In the second session, the Frenchman claimed the best starting grid position from Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam). Rookie drivers Ocon and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) locked out the front row of the grid for the third race.
Starting grid race 1: After rookie drivers Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:51.402 minutes), Esteban Ocon (1:51.329 minutes) and Antonio Fuoco (1:51.378 minutes) had dominated proceedings in free practice, stalwart Tom Blomqvist (1:51.327 minutes) succeeded in setting the fastest lap time in the first qualifying session of the season. With seven minutes remaining, the 20-year-old Brit moved up to the top of the time sheets and demoted the trio of fast rookies Ocon, Fuoco and Verstappen to second, third and fourth place. Lotus F1 junior Ocon was beaten by only 0.002 seconds. Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:51.795 minutes) provided a good FIA Formula 3 European Championship debut for his team West-Tec F3 by claiming fifth place. He ended up ahead of the second-fastest British driver, Jordan King (Carlin, 1:51.808 minutes), who was sixth.
Starting grid race 2: In second qualifying, Esteban Ocon (1:51.322 minutes) reversed the order and secured first place. His team-mate Nicholas Latifi (1:51.460 minutes) ended up second from Tom Blomqvist (1:51.517 minutes), who only moved up into third position in the final stages of the session. He demoted Antonio Fuoco (1:51.536 minutes), the best-placed rookie, to fourth place. Also in the final minutes, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:51.755 minutes) moved up into fifth place from Max Verstappen (1:51.808 minutes). The Dutch driver shone as the third-fastest Formula 3 novice.
Starting grid race 3: The second-fastest laps of every driver in second qualifying are used to determine the starting grid positions for the third race of the weekend. Esteban Ocon (1:51.327 minutes) also proved to be unbeatable in this ranking and secured two of the three possible pole positions for his FIA Formula 3 European Championship debut. With second place, Antonio Fuoco (1:51.557 minutes) made sure that rookie drivers locked out the front row of the grid. On Sunday morning, Tom Blomqvist (1:51.577 minutes) and Nicholas Latifi (1:51.777 minutes) will be lining up behind the two young talents. Max Verstappen (1:51.810 minutes) and Antonio Giovinazzi (1:51.894 minutes) will be on the third row.
Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “In first qualifying, the car was running really well and it wasn’t too bad in the second session either. Especially this morning, things were really close, but I managed to pull off a perfect lap and I am very happy with the first pole position of the year. After the good results in testing, being up front in first qualifying as well is nice. I hope for good starts and especially for good races. However, the season is still very long.”
Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “I didn’t expect these two pole positions, but we worked really hard during the winter and in the official test sessions. The two fastest lap times are the result of the huge effort by the entire team. The fastest time was within reach in first qualifying, too, but I didn’t manage to get it, which was somewhat disappointing. Now, I am looking forward to the three races that I definitely want to win, because that is what we are all are here for.”
Season rounds: 1 to 3 from 33
Pole position race 1: Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin)
Pole position race 2: Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position race 3: Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam)
Temperature air / track: 9.1 – 8.3 °C / 7.3 – 6.9 °C
Weather: mix of overcast and sunny