UNI-Virtuosi takes fourth pole of the season with Ilott, Zhou third
UNI-Virtuosi Racing scored its fourth pole position in six races this year in qualifying for the FIA Formula 2 feature race at Barcelona, Callum Ilott adding to his and the team's championship leads while his team-mate Guanyu Zhou scored third.
Ilott had trailed his closest championship rival heading into the final run on fresh tyres, but under pressure, Ilott delivered the extra four points awarded for pole position, his second in a row after a pole and a win at Silverstone last time out.
It was an innovative strategy from the UNI-Virtuosi team as it sent Ilott out early for his last runs, and the Ferrari Academy Driver sat in the pits at the end as others failed to best his time, good enough for a third pole of the year.
Meanwhile, Renault Formula 1 test and development driver Zhou visits a happy hunting ground where the Chinese driver scored his first FIA F2 podium last year, and he too delivered a massive improvement late on to take third on the grid.
Zhou also used an off-sync strategy by running in the mid-session gap, before heading out in the last four minutes to deliver a lap under pressure.
Sadly Zhou's tyres lost grip in the final sector, but he still starts with a chance to fight for victory in tomorrow afternoon's race from third.
"I got into the lap and it was all nice and smooth in the first two sectors.
"I got to the last sector and I think you could see on the TV that the rear of the car was dropping massively. I had it snap three times in the last three corners.
"I was happy to improve the lap time, but obviously it's not enough for pole or the front row.
"Considering where we were in practice this morning, I think me, my engineer and the whole team did a good job to put us up here again."
"My engineer said that we could run in the gap and I might get the second lap in, but it was likely that people would come out. I was like, 'yeah, okay, let's give it a go'. It worked. A good free track.
"I think, because of where we are in the pit lane, it's a little bit mixed and you can't really get in the queue. Other people queue up for ages. I don't know how they do it without going over temperature. But it worked and I put in a good lap. What can I say? It's pole!
"It's a good place to start. It doesn't get much better! It's always nice to come into the weekend with a good job done already. Let's see."
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