Will Stevens led a British lockout of the top three places in Formula Renault 3.5 qualifying at Jerez, while title contenders Carlos Sainz Jr and Roberto Merhi struggled.
Strakka driver Stevens, who has struggled for much of the year with his team to get the most out of FR3.5’s Michelin tyres over a single lap, went to the top of the times with three minutes remaining.
His lap came just seconds after Oliver Rowland and Will Buller had moved to the front, and nobody would challenge their places at the head of the field after that.
While most of the attention in the session focused on whether Merhi and Zeta Corse could bounce back from a bad Friday of free practice, the championship outsider ended up having a better session than title favourite Sainz.
Merhi – one of the only drivers to improve with his final lap – was able to salvage 10th on the grid, while Sainz was left languishing in 15th.
“It was a stange session,” Sainz told AUTOSPORT Hot Products. “The track temperature is much lower than we had yesterday, and that’s made a big difference.”
However, Sainz – who was suffering with food poisoning overnight – is still likely to be crowned champion later today, as Merhi needs to win the first race to have any chance of keeping his title hopes alive.
The twisty nature of Jerez’s final sector made traffic a problem throughout the session, as drivers were regularly backing off around the chicane and the last corner.
|1||Will Stevens||Strakka Racing||1m 27.783s||–|
|2||Oliver Rowland||Fortec Motorsports||1m 27.825s||0.042s|
|3||William Buller||Arden Motorsport||1m 27.862s||0.079s|
|4||Pietro Fantin||International Draco Racing||1m 27.871s||0.088s|
|5||Sergey Sirotkin||Fortec Motorsports||1m 27.940s||0.157s|
|6||Marlon Stockinger||Lotus||1m 27.994s||0.211s|
|7||Pierre Gasly||Arden Motorsport||1m 28.010s||0.227s|
|8||Matthieu Vaxiviere||Lotus||1m 28.062s||0.279s|
|9||Matias Laine||Strakka Racing||1m 28.151s||0.368s|
|10||Roberto Merhi||Zeta Corse||1m 28.174s||0.391s|
|11||Oscar Tunjo||Pons Racing||1m 28.188s||0.405s|
|12||Beitske Visser||AVF||1m 28.191s||0.408s|
|13||Nicholas Latifi||Tech 1 Racing||1m 28.303s||0.520s|
|14||Meindert van Buuren||Pons Racing||1m 28.336s||0.553s|
|15||Carlos Sainz Jr.||DAMS||1m 28.449s||0.666s|
|16||Luca Ghiotto||International Draco Racing||1m 28.460s||0.677s|
|17||Marco Sorensen||Tech 1 Racing||1m 28.515s||0.732s|
|18||Norman Nato||DAMS||1m 28.530s||0.747s|
|19||Zoel Amberg||AVF||1m 28.555s||0.772s|
|20||Roman Mavlanov||Zeta Corse||1m 28.685s||0.902s|
|21||Jazeman Jaafar||ISR||1m 28.734s||0.951s|