Article/Photo: GP3 Series Media
Briton on top in hectic qualifying session
George Russell emerged on top despite the best efforts of his rivals in this morning’s hectic qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, defying the almost constantly changing timesheets to hang on for pole by less than a tenth from ART teammate Jack Aitken and Dorian Boccolacci.
The Briton stopped the clock at 1:19.114 with 3 minutes remaining of the overcast but dry session, and with the constantly evolving times throughout it looked like it was too early: his rivals improved their times again, but fell just short of Russell’s target.
All of the field were straight out on track when the track went green, and they wasted little time in getting up to speed: Arjun Maini recorded the first competitive time 6 minutes into the session, but was soon overtaken on the timesheets by a constantly evolving battle between Boccolacci, Russell and Aitken, who all chipped away at the times before returning for fresh rubber.
The Frenchman was soon running faster still on his second set of tyres, but his rivals had other plans: in the frenetic final minutes of the session first Aitken, then Steijn Schothorst, and finally Russell grabbed P1. Aitken improved again on his final run to P2, as did Boccolacci for P3, and Russell went quicker on his first sector before losing time in the second one and the session was over.
Behind the top three Leonardo Pulcini, Schothorst, Giuliano Alesi, Ryan Tveter, Anthoine Hubert, Niko Kari and Nirei Fukuzumi will all feel they could have been higher, but in a session where the entire grid is covered by 0.8s hundredths make a difference. It all promises to make this afternoon’s race 1 unmissable.