In qualifying, split up in two heats, the Lotus F1 junior driver was the fastest in Group B and also faster than Lucas Auer, who ended up first in Group A.
For Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), the race weekend at the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit in Pau couldn’t have started better: the 17-year-old Frenchman claimed pole position for the first race of the weekend in the south of France. In qualifying, split up in two heats, the Lotus F1 junior driver was the fastest in Group B and also faster than Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), who ended up first in Group A. Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) will line up on the second row of the grid for the seventh race of the season.
Group A (odd starting numbers)
Thus, neither Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:10.634 minutes) nor Nicholas Latifi (1:10.559 minutes) managed to claim the best starting grid position.
With 90 seconds remaining in the 20 minutes’ session, qualifying was interrupted after Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:10.769 minutes) had crashed into the tyre stacks.
Once the action had resumed, none of the drivers managed to beat Lucas Auer’s fastest time so that the Austrian ended up first in his group. Latifi followed in second place from Blomqvist, Jordan King (Carlin, 1:10.714 minutes) and Serrallés.
Group B (even starting numbers)
Max Verstappen (1:10.096 minutes) topped the time sheets in the opening stages of the second session. First and foremost, the Dutchman had to deal with Esteban Ocon (1:10.082 minutes), who moved up into first place with eleven minutes remaining. Especially in the closing stages, the two rookies pushed one another to ever-faster lap times. On their final flying laps, both Ocon and Verstappen managed to improve their times significantly, but it was Ocon who ended up on top. As the Frenchman’s time also was faster than Lucas Auer’s in Group A, he will be starting from pole position in the first race. Verstappen was classified second from Jake Dennis (Carlin, 1:10.570 minutes), Dennis van de Laar (Prema Powerteam, 1:10.664 minutes), Edward Jones (Carlin, 1:10.887 minutes) and Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:11.078 minutes).
Group B qualifying was red-flagged for the first time just before the halfway point as Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:13.066 minutes) crashed into the barriers. With a little less than five minutes to go, Edward Jones also failed to avoid an impact into the barriers and thus caused the second brief interruption.
Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “Especially here, being on pole position is great, I feel fantastic! When the red flags were out for the second time, I hoped that the session wouldn’t be restarted because I was already first in my group. However, the action resumed and I did my utmost to remain on top. The final lap then was my best and was enough to claim pole position, which is particularly nice in my home race. The track here is great and a lot of fun to drive.”