Liam Lawson has narrowly missed out in his third successive FIA Formula 3 front row start Kiwi posting a late flyer to notch third on the grid in qualifying at Barcelona.
Lawson laid down his fastest time in his third and final run as a flurry of drivers all made late improvements with Prema’s Logan Sargeant snaring pole position away from teammate Oscar Piastri who ultimately slipped back to fourth.
HWA’s Jake Hughes was the first to seize provisional pole having usurped Piastri at the top only for Sargeant to pip the Brit by one-tenth moments later. Lawson would end up a mere 0.032s down on Hughes.
The Red Bull Junior did have a minor scare during his first run as it seemed he was carrying some kind of mechanical glitch that later was confirmed to be an engine drama. Fortunately, nothing eventuated from the issue and the Kiwi demonstrated his qualifying prowess by annihilating his Hitech GP stablemates who could only muster 22nd and 24th.
“Considering what happened in the session, it is actually a pretty good result,” said Lawson.
“We had a lot of issues on the first run, big engine problems, and we were lucky enough to fix it, but unfortunately when I went to go back out again, we couldn’t start the car and ended up at the back of the queue.
“Before I started the lap, I spent a minute in the last sector behind the entire field, basically doing 5-10kph, so considering everything, it is not bad.
“The car was quite good today and I was really happy with it, so in that sense, it is a little bit gutting. I think there could have been potential today for at least a front row. But for tomorrow, we just have to focus on the start. I think tyre wear is going to be pretty big round here.”
Sebastian Fernandez was the highest-placed ART Grand Prix driver in fifth, ahead of Carlin’s Clement Novalak.
The top-four on the grid mirror the top four drivers in the championship with Sargeant strengthen his grip on the championship lead by adding four points for pole position.
Lawson has never scored a point in FIA F3 at the Spanish GP circuit but is the prime position to capitalise on the mammoth 1.02km main straight to slingshot himself into an early lead from the second row.
With the Barcelona circuit infamously difficult to overtake on, the race start could be a pivotal moment in the overall result.
Tonight’s feature race is scheduled to begin from 8.30 pm NZT.