Marcus Armstrong’s debut FIA Formula 2 qualifying has been blighted by misfortune as the Kiwi was forced to abandon his final flying lap at the Red Bull Ring due to yellow flags while it was Renault junior Guanyu Zhou who snared pole position in an incident-filled session.
Zhou set a 1m14.416s in the final minutes to register his second F2 career pole with MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich in second some four-tenths off the pace.
The session was nearly suspended in its first few minutes when Giuliano Alesi went off the road at Turn 1 and gently collided with the barriers on his way back to the track. The Frenchman would make it back to pitlane and eventually set a lap time but will start in the lower reaches of the top 20.
A red flag caused by 2019 Euroformula Open champion Marino Sato in his second off-track excursion of the weekend meant the field only had a five-minute shootout for pole.
But as several key runners including Armstrong set about their final lap to challenge Zhou, they were met by yellow flags as Hitech Grand Prix’s Nikita Mazepin had spun on the exit of Turn 4.
Zhou’s Virtuosi Racing stablemate Callum Ilott would hang on to third, only 0.004s adrift of Drugovich.
ART Grand Prix’s Christian Lundgaard was ahead of Prema Racing’s Mick Schumacher, a strong result for the German driver after his team were forced to change his engine after they discovered an issue in practice.
Despite setting the third-fastest time in the day’s earlier practice session, Armstrong could only manage 13th, one spot behind the morning’s pace-setter Yuki Tsunoda.
Zhou will be searching for his maiden F2 win on Saturday afternoon in the season-opening Feature Race which is set to get underway from 2.45 am NZT.