F2: Doohan overcomes Martins for Abu Dhabi pole as title leader Pourchaire hits trouble
Jack Doohan went straight from Formula 1 Free Practice 1 rookie to pole-sitter in Abu Dhabi. The Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver overcame fellow Alpine junior Victor Martins with back-to-back personal bests to claim the final pole position of the 2023 Formula 2 season.
The championship fight is now a two-horse race, but leader Theo Pourchaire is on the backfoot after qualifying in 14th. His rival Frederik Vesti secured a reverse grid front row spot for Saturday’s Sprint Race in ninth, whilst Ayumu Iwasa’s P5 finish was not enough to keep him in the fight.
After topping Free Practice, Martins took control of the timing sheets after the first runs on a 1m 36.692s. Sitting over four tenths clear of Iwasa, Doohan then sliced the ART Grand Prix driver’s gap out front down to two tenths.
The Frenchman restrengthened his hold on P1 on his second attempt, improving by 0.341s, but Doohan closed back in to within five thousandths as Campos Racing’s Kush Maini put all three Alpine juniors inside the top three.
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Iwasa went fastest on his second set, but a charging Doohan broke into the 1m 35s to take provisional pole. Both Iwasa and Martins tried to respond, but the Australian bettered his previous effort once again, setting a 1m 35.567s to take pole by two tenths to Martins and Maini in third.
Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney matched his best F2 qualifying result in fourth ahead of Dennis Hauger, Richard Verschoor and Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar.
Vesti will line-up alongside reverse grid pole-sitter Enzo Fittipaldi on the Sprint Race front row on Saturday when the lights go out at 1620 local time.