Vandoorne takes third straight pole despite identical lap times

Stoffel Vandoorne

Image credit – GP2 Media Service

Going into the Qualifying session in Sochi it was imperative to secure pole position because nobody knows for sure how difficult overtaking will be come the Feature Race on Saturday afternoon.

25 of the 26 drivers took to the track as the session went green, only Daniël de Jong stayed in the pits. Track limits were abused by the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Canamasas on their first laps. Vandoorne was the leader after the first round of laps with a time of 1:46.727.

Arthur Pic’s first attempt at a lap was scuppered by home boy Artem Markelov who was slow on the racing line at turn 14. Another driver whose lap was ruined was Stefano Coletti who came across Felipe Nasr travelling at a snail’s pace through the last sector. The pair collided and Coletti was forced to make emergency front wing repairs. As the session hit half distance at 15 minutes on the clock it was a surprise to see Takuya Izawa leading the way after completing the first lap of the session below the 1m 46s barrier.

Daniël de Jong completed his first lap halfway through the session but failed to make his alternative strategy work for the fifth weekend in a row.

The final five minutes saw a number of changes for provisional pole position. Arthur Pic carried his pace from Practice into Qualifying and led his rivals with a 1:45.552. Izawa started another charge and was setting session best sector times before a snap of oversteer in the final sector undid the Japanese driver’s hard work.

His team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was right on the money from start to finish and secured pole position for the Sochi Feature Race. Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic was able to match the Belgian’s time right down to the last thousandth of a second but will line up second having completed his lap later in the session.

Jolyon Palmer will start the Feature Race from P4 and will have to wait even longer to get close to the GP2 Series crown.

Position Driver Team Gap
1 Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:45.402
2 Pic Campos Racing 0.000
3 Izawa ART Grand Prix 0.273
4 Palmer DAMS 0.283
5 Marciello Racing Engineering 0.370
6 Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 0.411
7 Sato Campos Racing 0.700
8 Coletti Racing Engineering 0.718
9 Negrão Arden International 0.771
10 Nasr Carlin 0.808
11 Gasly Caterham Racing 0.975
12 Canamasas Trident 1.009
13 Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1.095
14 Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1.152
15 Haryanto Caterham Racing 1.158
16 Sørensen MP Motorsport 1.226
17 Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1.249
18 Cecotto Trident 1.386
19 Leal Carlin 1.593
20 Ellinas Rapax 1.604
21 Richelmi DAMS 1.623
22 Binder Arden International 1.689
23 Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1.984
24 Trummer Rapax 2.148
25 De Jong MP Motorsport 2.209
26 Campana Venezuela GP Lazarus 2.393
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