Marcus Armstrong has matched his best Formula 2 qualifying result ahead of the feeder series’ return to action in Bahrain this weekend, with the Kiwi starting a commendable fourth.
Armstrong set his fastest lap of the session – a 1m42.052 – on his first flying lap.
It put the ART driver on provisional pole for most of the opening half of the 30-minute session which was punctuated by a red flag after title-contender Yuki Tsunoda spun on the exit of Turn 11.
Callum Ilott had executed a mighty lap on his fresh set of rubber just before the incident to leapfrog himself five-tenths clear of Armstrong at the head of the timing boards.
Both Felipe Drugovich and Dan Ticktum then edged ahead of the Kiwi after the restart as most of the field looked to have used the best of their opening set of tyres.
After everyone had ambled through pitlane to don their final set of tyres, however, none of the top five runners improved on their second sets. A change of wind conditions was the suspected cause.
Though Drugovich very nearly gave Ilott a momentary scare for pole position after he went purple in the final sector of his last flying lap. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he had run into a stubborn Nikita Mazepin who he was forced to overtake and lost over half-a-second in progress.
Ilott’s pole was then sealed when MP Motorsport’s Giuliano Alesi came to a halt with a mechanical problem, indicating to the fire marshals of a potential fire at the rear of the car.
Consequently, the session was suspended a second time. This time, however, it would be the end of qualifying with insufficient time left on the clock.
Armstrong’s result matches his best which he earned at Mugello earlier in the season. That race saw an untimely safety car have the Kiwi slip back to ninth – a position he is eager to improve on as he looks to steer his championship in the right direction with only two rounds remaining.
He also comfortably outpaced his ART teammate Christina Lundgaard who will start P9.
Championship leader Mick Schumacher will start from tenth, but ahead of title protagonist Robert Shwartzman who could only muster 14th in a challenging session for Prema.