Sochi F3: Points leader Shwartzman takes pole for finale

Ferrari Formula 1 junior Robert Shwartzman took pole position for the FIA Formula 3 Championship finale at Sochi in a Prema Racing 1-2-3.

Russian driver Shwartzman didn’t appear to be in the fight for pole after the first flying laps, but after the initial runs were out of the way he challenged his Prema and Ferrari junior teammate Marcus Armstrong, who had set the fastest time in practice. 

Shwartzman led into the mid-session break after a stunning final sector, and then once back out on track he improved twice, narrowly retaking pole from his closest title rival Jehan Daruvala – in the third Prema – on the last flying effort.

Pole gives Shwartzman four extra points and means he only needs to finish fourth in the first of the two races of the weekend on Saturday to clinch the title, or fifth with two points for fastest lap. 

Daruvala hadn’t topped the session until after the chequered flag had fallen and was narrowly usurped by the series leader, meaning his deficit to the leader is 37 points with 44 on the table. 

Armstrong went out later than his teammates for the final run and almost didn’t make it back for a final push lap, compromising his cool-down lap to reach the cheqered flag in time. He held on to third as others failed to improve on the last run.

Niko Kari was a threat for pole all session long and delivered fourth for Trident ahead of Renault Academy driver and ART Grand Prix racer Christian Lundgaard, who delivered a late flier after a scruffy session before that.

HWA’s Jake Hughes complained of heavy traffic and being “blocked” on his earlier runs, but managed to finish sixth late on ahead of the Trident of Pedro Piquet and last year’s GP3 race one winner Leonardo Pulcini.

Pulcini’s Hitech Grand Prix teammate and Red Bull junior Juri Vips and ART Renault junior Max Fewtrell rounded out the top 10.

David Schumacher, son of Ralf and nephew of Michael, marked his competitive F3 debut with 25th for Campos Racing – 2.3s off Shwartzman’s pace – as he steps in to replace the injured Alex Peroni, who had a huge airborne crash at Monza earlier this month.

Hon Chio ‘Charles’ Leong was 19th and 4.5s off the leader’s pace on his debut with Jenzer. 

Qualifying results:

1 Robert Shwartzman Prema Powerteam 1’52.583  
2 Jehan Daruvala Prema Powerteam 1’52.775 0.192
3 Marcus Armstrong Prema Powerteam 1’52.853 0.270
4 Niko Kari Trident 1’53.191 0.608
5 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 1’53.274 0.691
6 Jake Hughes HWA AG 1’53.340 0.757
7 Pedro Piquet Trident 1’53.349 0.766
8 Leonardo Pulcini HitechGP 1’53.451 0.868
9 Jüri Vips HitechGP 1’53.530 0.947
10 Max Fewtrell ART Grand Prix 1’53.539 0.956
11 Felipe Drugovich Carlin 1’53.550 0.967
12 Logan Sargeant Carlin 1’53.643 1.060
13 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 1’53.824 1.241
14 Bent Viscaal HWA AG 1’53.842 1.259
15 Raoul Hyman Charouz Racing System 1’53.877 1.294
16 Devlin DeFrancesco Trident 1’53.882 1.299
17 Yuki Tsunoda Jenzer Motorsport 1’53.938 1.355
18 Ye Yifei HitechGP 1’53.943 1.360
19 Teppei Natori Carlin 1’54.001 1.418
20 Sebastian Fernandez Campos Racing 1’54.046 1.463
21 Lirim Zendeli Charouz Racing System 1’54.112 1.529
22 Fabio Scherer Charouz Racing System 1’54.145 1.562
23 Liam Lawson MP Motorsport 1’54.557 1.974
24 Simo Laaksonen MP Motorsport 1’54.757 2.174
25 David Schumacher Campos Racing 1’54.889 2.306
26 Andreas Estner Jenzer Motorsport 1’54.912 2.329
27 Keyvan Andres HWA AG 1’55.068 2.485
28 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing 1’56.251 3.668
29Leong Hon Jenzer Motorsport 1’57.166 4.583

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