F2 Saudi Arabia: Martins claims maiden pole from Bearman

Victor Martins claimed his maiden Formula 2 pole position in Saudi Arabia, pipping fellow rookie Ollie Bearman to the front spot by 0.6 seconds in a red-flagged session.

F2 Saudi Arabia: Martins claims maiden pole from Bearman
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The ART Grand Prix driver put in a brilliant 1m41.326s to lead the field for Sunday's feature race, with Prema driver Bearman in second.

Reigning Formula 3 champion Martins staked his claim to pole early on, with a 1m42.766s, before Arthur Leclerc went quicker for DAMS with a 1m42.629s.

The first red flag came 12 minutes into the session, with Richard Verschoor spinning his Van Amersfoort Racing car at Turn 22 and coming to a stop on track.

Martins recaptured the top spot shortly after with his best time, and despite Bearman improving on his last run, he was unable to beat the Frenchman.

The session was then ended early after Leclerc suffered a mechanical issue and came to a stop at the exit of Turn 22, scuppering the final attempts of several drivers including 2021 F3 champion Dennis Hauger.

Roman Stanek set an early benchmark on the supersoft tyres, which are available for this round, with a 1m44.162s. He was demoted by Jack Doohan and then Ayumu Iwasa, who set a 1m43.474s, before Bearman went quickest.

Martins then went top, with Kush Maini in second as the rookies showed their good form. Leclerc was next to go fastest, before Martins bettered him by 0.5s ahead of the red flag.

Theo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prix

Theo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prix

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Despite traffic as the field emerged after the first red flag, Enzo Fittipaldi was able to move up into third for Rodin Carlin, as Frederik Vesti took the top spot for Prema.

Bearman then claimed the lead, before Martins toppled him to claim his maiden pole on just his second F2 weekend. Bearman had also made an early attempt to claim pole, despite a close brush with the wall, but was 0.2s slower than Martins.

He was sat in third when the first stoppage came, but managed to improve to the front row once action resumed.

The Briton's best time was a 1m42.004s, and was the final time to be clocked before the red flag.

Despite lingering around eighth place for the early stages, 2022 runner-up Theo Pourchaire will line up third for ART, having set a 1m42.071s with five minutes remaining.

Doohan will start fourth for Virtuosi, with DAMS' Ayumu Iwasa in sixth and Frederik Vesti seventh for Prema.

Jak Crawford will start on reverse-grid pole for Saturday's sprint race for Hitech having qualified eighth, ahead of Bahrain sprint race winner Ralph Boschung (Campos) and team-mate Maini.

Both Trident drivers, Clement Novalak and Stanek, were handed five-place grid penalties for the sprint race after stewards found that the team's mechanics failed to hand back both drivers’ set of tyres into parc ferme after qualifying.

Team personnel were also found to have worked on the sets of tyres before handing them in, breaching the Sporting Regulations.

As a result, Novalak will line up 16th, with Stanek in 21st.

F2 Saudi Arabia qualifying results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 France Victor Martins France ART Grand Prix 11 1'41.326  
2 United Kingdom Oliver Bearman Italy Prema Powerteam 10 1'42.070 0.744
3 France Theo Pourchaire France ART Grand Prix 11 1'42.071 0.745
4 Australia Jack Doohan Invicta Virtuosi Racing 10 1'42.110 0.784
5 India Jehan Daruvala Netherlands MP Motorsport 9 1'42.111 0.785
6 Japan Ayumu Iwasa France DAMS 10 1'42.120 0.794
7 Denmark Frederik Vesti Italy Prema Powerteam 10 1'42.295 0.969
8 India Kush Maini Spain Campos Racing 9 1'42.360 1.034
9 Switzerland Ralph Boschung Spain Campos Racing 8 1'42.497 1.171
10 United States Jak Crawford Hitech Pulse-Eight 11 1'42.553 1.227
11 France Clement Novalak Italy Trident 11 1'42.576 1.250
12 United States Juan Manuel Correa Netherlands Van Amersfoort Racing 11 1'42.617 1.291
13 Monaco Arthur Leclerc France DAMS 9 1'42.629 1.303
14 Brazil Enzo Fittipaldi Rodin Carlin 11 1'42.686 1.360
15 Norway Dennis Hauger Netherlands MP Motorsport 9 1'42.754 1.428
16 Czech Republic Roman Stanek Italy Trident 11 1'42.795 1.469
17 Barbados Zane Maloney Rodin Carlin 11 1'42.819 1.493
18 Israel Roy Nissany PHM Racing by Charouz 10 1'42.854 1.528
19 France Isack Hadjar Hitech Pulse-Eight 9 1'43.079 1.753
20 Netherlands Richard Verschoor Netherlands Van Amersfoort Racing 4 1'43.385 2.059
21 Belgium Amaury Cordeel Invicta Virtuosi Racing 9 1'43.736 2.410
22 United States Brad Benavides PHM Racing by Charouz 10 1'45.027 3.701
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