Callum Ilott began the penultimate round in his hunt for the FIA Formula 2 championship in style by taking pole position in Bahrain, with Guanyu Zhou close behind in fifth.
UNI-Virtuosi has more pole positions than the rest of the F2 grid combined in 2020, and Ilott added his fifth pole of the year to take the four points on offer, vital in his chances of the championship title.
It wasn’t easy as unusually, the conditions meant the later runs that usually decide qualifying were actually slower than the initial banker laps. This came after another unusual twist in Bahrain - wet weather, which happened during practice.
Back in qualifying, Ilott’s rapid opening lap worked to his advantage as the chasing pack were unable to improve on it. It gave the team a second Bahrain pole in a row following its 2019 success.
Zhou felt a pole or front row start was possible but his best chance at a rapid lap time was hampered by a car spinning in front of him, which means a fifth place start.
It’s still a good place to be for Renault Formula 1 test and development driver Zhou, who starts ahead of his championship rivals as he looks to move forward over the final four races of the year.
The UNI-Virtuosi duo will fight for honours in Saturday's feature race, before a reversed-grid encounter takes place on Sunday.
"The result is OK, but I’m not so happy with it.
"What should have been my best lap, I had a car spin in front of me which damaged my whole third sector. It was a potential pole or at least front row so that was really frustrating.
"But on the other hand we start in front of our championship rivals is a good thing especially me. I’m just going to go maximum attack starting where I am.
"I think it’s going to be a long, tough race tomorrow. It will be good for us if there’s some degradation and we can keep moving forward."
"Very happy! It was a very, very good lap that I put in straight away and I wasn’t able to replicate it, nor was anyone else.
"I think the conditions changed during the session which made it a bit more difficult to put a lap together. There were a few yellow and red flags too.
"Overall it was a really good session and I have to say thanks to the team for putting a mega car together. I’m happy with the job we did."
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