After a great deal of time in the stewards' office, and a slew of incident reports that had to be investigated, Matteo Chinosi (Ombra Racing) claimed pole for Round 5 of the British F3 International Series here at Monza. With the local hero racing...
After a great deal of time in the stewards' office, and a slew of incident reports that had to be investigated, Matteo Chinosi (Ombra Racing) claimed pole for Round 5 of the British F3 International Series here at Monza. With the local hero racing in the Invitation Class and thus not eligible to score points, the de facto pole man was Max Chilton (Hitech Racing), who finished just ahead of Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) and Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing). Andy Meyrick (Carlin Motorsport) was on pole for the National Class category back in 12th place despite recording the fastest lap of the session. For the second race, pole went to Chilton, with Chinosi 2nd and Mustonen 3rd, while Meyrick again claimed National Class pole, this time in 7th overall.
After the washout that was first qualifying, the decision was taken to try again today and to use the fastest lap for each competitor to decide where they would be on the grid for race 1 (round 5) and their second fastest lap to set the grid for round 6. It was all riding on this session. Unfortunately, the weather was still proving to be a major factor here at Monza, with near monsoon conditions prevailing early in the morning. At least by the time 11.30 rolled around, the rain had eased considerably, though it promptly started to gather pace again as the cars lined up in the pitlane to await the green light at the start of qualifying. One of the main beneficiaries of this situation was Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport) who had been prevented from catching his flight when his Schengen visa was found to have expired. That meant he didn't arrive in Monza until after yesterday's aborted session. As he said, sometimes you get lucky.
The session got off to a slippery start with most people exercising greater or lesser degrees of caution, though Mustonen is not a man who does cautious at the best of times. Even he only managed a 2:09 which gave an indication of just how bad it was out there. Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) was soon up to 2nd, with the current championship leader Sergio Perez (T-Sport) in 3rd. No one wanted to be too brave in the awful weather, especially as the rain had really started up again. It wasn't hampering Meyrick too badly though, and the National Class leader was 4th overall as the times started to come through. Invitation Class runner Chinosi soon took the place from Meyrick, but the changes were coming through thick and fast anyway at this stage.
In 6th was Esteban Guerrieri (Ultimate Motorsport), with Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport) 7th, but they both got demoted when Max Chilton (Hitech Racing) grabbed 4th. He in turn got pushed back when Meyrick went 3rd and Abay increased his pace and ended up 4th.
Perez came back at speed, and moved to pole, just ahead of Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) while various drivers including Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) were having the utmost difficulty keeping it on the tarmac, especially on some of the trickier corners. Although Chilton now grabbed 3rd and Mustonen also went faster, they were all sliding about all over the place. The next man to occupy pole was Alguersuari, with Hohenthal beside him, pushing Mustonen back a row, along with Perez. A third of the way in and Chilton was 5th, from Meyrick, Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport) who is now running with number 16 instead of 13 in an attempt to improve his luck, Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing), Abay and Henry Arundel (Double R Racing). The order changed again when Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) shot up to 7th, which was just as well from the team point of view as Hartley was languishing down in 18th now. Guerrieri promptly improved for 7th, while Jensen was being shown the black and white flag for corner cutting. It might well have explained what he was doing in the top ten in a car that looks very troublesome to drive. He wasn't the only one to get the black and white flag in the next few laps.
The next time it came out was after Perez went back onto pole. While the rest of them were chopping and changing positions behind him, the Mexican was really flying. Devaney was improving and was 6th, which meant Meyrick was now only 7th overall, which was unlikely to please him. Meanwhile, Chinosi was beginning to pick up speed again and was 8th. Weirdly, perhaps, Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport) was 10th. A new lap and it was Mustonen to 2nd, while Arundel claimed pole. While Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) was struggling to get to grips with a circuit he doesn't know, Chilton snatched 2nd. And that was when Perez and Arundel were both cautioned for corner cutting. It was then that Perez went back to pole, but it seemed likely that the lap time would be disallowed. The potential existed at least. Shortly after the warning flag was shown the two of them were flagged up as being under investigation by the stewards for corner cutting. It was beginning to look as if we would never get a grid for these races!
With two thirds of the session done, Meyrick was still leading the National Class, though he was now only 10th, and he was soon even further down. Perez and Arundel were occupying the front row (even if they were unlikely to be allowed to keep those times), from Abay, Mustonen, Guerrieri, Alguersuari, Hohenthal, Turvey, Devaney, Meyrick, Chinosi and Teixeira. Perez set yet another fastest lap, but was still apparently benefiting from a short cut, and Meyrick did the same to catapult to 3rd overall, only to immediately also be flagged up as being under investigation for corner cutting. It was all getting a bit silly, because frankly staying on the track in these conditions was not at all easy. As the session drew to a close, Chilton shot up to 3rd, and Meyrick promptly recorded the overall fastest time of the session. Even so it wasn't quite over, with Chinosi - a local boy it should be remembered - moving up to 6th, and then on the very final lap going 2nd overall. The order on the screen was Meyrick, from Chinosi, Perez, Arundel, Chilton, Abay, Mustonen, Guerrieri, Alguersuari and Devaney. 11th was Hohenthal, from Turvey, Ericsson, Hartley, John Martin (Double R Racing), Walter Grubmuller, Teixeira, Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing), Jensen and Al Khalifa. In 21st was Philip Major, from Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport), Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport), Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport), Guerrero, Craig Reiff (Nexa Racing), Hywel Lloyd (CF Motorsport), and Federico Leo (Ombra Racing) in the other Invitation Class entry.
After the stewards got through with the 48 separate incident reports and investigated various counts of corner cutting the grid for Race 1 finally appeared about 2 hours later. Perez, Arundel, Meyrick, Guerrero and Chilton were all docked times, which meant the order was Chinosi on pole, from Chilton, Abay, Mustonen, Guerrieri, Alguersuari, Devaney, Hohenthal, Turvey and Ericsson. 11th was Arundel, from Meyrick still on National Class pole, then came Hartley, Perez, Martin, Grubmuller, Teixeira, Tandy, Jensen and Al Khalifa. 21st was Major, from Einar, Bridger, Wilson, Guerrero, Reiff, Lloyd and Leo bringing up the rear and allowing Ombra to book-end the order.
The grid for Race 2 took even longer to appear and wasn't published for another hour or so after pretty much everyone protested everyone else, including in some instances their own team-mates. This time Chilton would start from pole, with Chinosi alongside him. Mustonen was 3rd, from Devaney, Hohenthal, Guerrieri, Meyrick (National Class pole), Alguersuari, Ericsson and Turvey. Hartley was 11th, from Abay, Martin, Perez, Tandy, Arundel, Teixeira, Grubmuller, Major and Einar. 21st place was claimed by Bridger, from Guerrero, Reiff, Wilson, Al Khalifa, Jensen, Lloyd and Leo.
Weather: Wet, warm.