Brendon Hartley left the rest of the British F3 International Series field trailing in his wake in the first qualifying session of the weekend, posting a pole lap of 1m11.960 as the chequered flag came out, 1.6 seconds inside Marko Asmer’s lap record and 0.8 seconds faster than his nearest rival, championship leader Oliver Turvey. It was also a 1-2-3 for Carlin as Jaime Alguersuari heads up row 2 0.3 seconds ahead of British F3 returnee Esteban Guerreri. Jay Bridger pipped Steven Guerrero to the National Class pole on his final lap of the 30-minute session.
With an air temperature of 35 degrees and the sun beating down on the Romanian capital city, the first 30-minute qualifying session of the weekend got underway with championship contender Sergio Perez making the early running while his main rivals all stayed in the pits. The Mexican set a time of 1m16.137 on his first flying lap before retiring to the pits after completing just four laps. Perez’s T Sport teammate Salman Al Khalifa held the provisional pole position for the National Class with a 1m17.184 lap.
Marcus Ericsson clipped the wall in Turn 12 on his first flying lap, buckling his left front suspension. The Swede had failed to set a time and will have to start at the back of the grid in this afternoons race.
It was a full 10 minutes into the session before Oliver Turvey, Jaime Alguersuari, Atte Mustonen, John Martin, Stefan Wilson and Jay Bridger came out to set a time. Perez and Brendon Hartley also came out a few minutes making the 3 kilometre Bucharest circuit a difficult place to get a clear road to set a decent time.
Meanwhile Max Chilton was enjoying his best qualifying session for a while, posting the provisional pole position time on his 5th lap and then improving this twice more to 1m14.139, just ahead of Perez and Turvey. However the Championship leader was soon into his stride and a lap later pushed Chilton off the top spot wit a 1m13.951 but Turvey was deposed in turn by Perez and then Hartley as the times continued to fall.
After Ericsson’s demise, things didn’t get much better for Fortec when Philip Major’s Dallara ground to a halt after clipping the wall at almost the same point as his teammates.
As the session entered the final 10 minutes Jamie Alguersuari went quickest with a 1m13.902, just ahead of Turvey, with Chilton improving again to claim 3rd place. Two laps later the places changed again as Oliver Turvey bounced back with a 1m13.252, 0.1 ahead of Alguersuari who had also improved but not as much as the British driver.
In the National Class Steven Guerrero was in provisional pole position ahead of Hywel Lloyd and Salman Al Khalifa. However the Bahraini driver had to make an unscheduled trip to the pitlane with a broken wheel rim and a flat tyre after clipping the wall. Stefan Wilson also span out and stalled at Turn 13, the Silverstone race winner bringing out the yellows as the marshals removed his Fluid Motorsport Dallara from the circuit. The yellows spoilt a fast lap by Hartley as the New Zealander set the fastest times of the session in Sector 1 and Sector 2 but had to back out in Sector 3 because of the warning flags.
However in the dying minutes Hartley posted a 1m12.736, just 0.131 ahead of the improving Turvey but put his fifth pole of the season beyond doubt on his last lap with a 1m11.960 as he took the chequered flag. Jay Bridger mirrored this acheivment claiming the National Clas pole on his very last lap to take his sixth class pole of the year.
Round 19 is due to start at 16:30 local time.
Round 19: Qualifying Result
1 – 3 – INT – Brendon HARTLEY – NZL – 1:11.960
2 – 17 – INT – Oliver TURVEY – GBR – +0.859s
3 – 4 – INT – Jaime ALGUERSUARI – ESP – +0.953s
4 – 11 – INT – Esteban GUERRIERI – ARG – +1.270s
5 – 18 – INT – Sam ABAY – AUS – +1.582s
6 – 1 – INT – Max CHILTON – GBR – +1.601s
7 – 26 – INT – Atte MUSTONEN – FIN – +1.709s
8 – 24 – INT – John MARTIN – AUS – +1.757s
9 – 9 – INT – Sergio PEREZ – MEX – +1.948s
10 – 2 – INT – Walter GRUBMULLER – AUT – +2.025s
11 – 16 – INT – Michael DEVANEY – IRL – +2.506s
12 – 85 – INV – Oliver OAKES – GBR – +2.566s
13 – 6 – INT – Henry ARUNDEL – GBR – +2.818s
14 – 50 – NAT – Jay BRIDGER – GBR – +3.071s
15 – 53 – NAT – Steven GUERRERO – COL – +3.197s
16 – 12 – INT – Ricardo TEIXEIRA – ANG – +3.309s
17 – 52 – NAT – Hywel LLOYD – GBR – +3.316s
18 – 57 – NAT – Salman AL KHALIFA – BHR – +3.632s
19 – 51 – NAT – Stefan WILSON – GBR – +4.790s
20 – 14 – INT – Philip MAJOR – CAN – +5.104s
21 – 54 – NAT – Kristjan EINAR – ISL – +5.138s
22 – 8 – INT – Marcus ERICSSON – SWE – No Time Set