Will Stevens, Strakka, Jerez FR3.5 2014

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.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
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

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