It was an impressive qualifying session for the Carlin drivers at a wet Nürburgring this afternoon as Lando Norris stormed to pole position, over 0.9s seconds clear of P2. Sacha Fenestraz enjoyed an impressive debut in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, claiming a stunning fourth place in his first qualifying session in the series. Jehan Daruvala claimed seventh place, Ferdinand Habsburg 13th and Ameya Vaidyanathan 21st in a tricky wet session around the German circuit.
Despite the rain easing just as qualifying was about to get underway this afternoon, the track conditions remained wet as the drivers took to the track on grooved wet Hankook tyres. Championship leader Norris seemed immediately at ease with the conditions, setting the pace early on in an impressive session for the McLaren Honda junior.
While Norris’ place atop of the timing screens remained dominant throughout the session, new team mate Fenestraz was learning as much as possible in his first F3 qualifying session. The 18-year-old steadily climbed the timing screens and was sixth in the first half of the session with team mate Habsburg ninth just ahead of Daruvala 10th and Vaidyanathan 21st.
As Norris became more familiar with the grip, the 17-year-old set three purple sectors to claim provisional pole by 0.7s. A few minutes later and Norris had raised the gap to over a second, before second placed man Jake Hughes went faster to close the gap slightly to 0.907s.
At the chequered flag Norris had claimed his eighth pole of the season, with Fenestraz equally impressive in his first wet session in an F3 car in P4. Race winners Daruvala and Habsburg were seventh and 13th respectively with Vaidyanathan 21st.
Pole man Norris reflected, “Qualifying was really good. The session started off quite tricky as we hadn’t done any laps in the wet so we didn’t know exactly what we needed to do but we started off with a good set-up and knew which lines to take. The car felt very comfortable from the start and started getting better and better as I got more temperature into the tyres. On my final lap everything went right; I didn’t take any risks as I felt like I’d made a few mistakes the laps before so I knew I could improve which ended up being good enough to take pole by quite a big chunk. The team did a great job.”
Team mate Fenestraz added, “I made quite a big step forward compared to practice even though it was my first time in the wet in this car, at the end it wasn’t too bad. I think today went much better than I expected. I was hoping for maybe around 10th place, but not the second row! I was really happy in the car which felt really fast and I was able to follow Lando’s line a bit which was helpful. The track was getting drier and drier so the key was to try and do your fastest lap at the end. It felt very different to the Formula Renault car; there is so much grip, in comparison it doesn’t move around at all. The big thing was to try and brake as late as possible and that was one of the main things I wanted to work on. We’ll see tomorrow, the racing should be fun.”