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F2: Iwasa overshadows rivals to claim dominant maiden pole in Budapest

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Ayumu Iwasa commanded all the attention in qualifying by securing his first Formula 2 pole position, going a staggering 0.381s clear in the final minutes of running. Although he set the pace early on, Marcus Armstrong couldn’t get another attempt in to get close to the Red Bull junior’s time and had to be content with second ahead of championship leader Felipe Drugovich.

Cooler evening temperatures removed one hurdle out of the drivers’ way, as the field were able to take more than one shot at a flying lap on each set of soft tyres. However, it was the all-important track limits around the Hungaroring that proved to be a stumbling block with mistakes and lock-ups littering several early runs, including Iwasa’s.

Initially Armstrong and the ART Grand Prix duo of Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti looked to be the ones to beat as the trio traded places at head of the order, before Drugovich managed to lift himself up into second, two-thousandths of a second behind Mercedes junior Vesti’s best time.

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Failing to improve on their second runs on their first sets, nearly all the field dived into the pits to await the second half of the session, knowing that track position for both races would be vital given the lack of overtaking opportunities around the 14-corner layout. However, Alpine junior Olli Caldwell opted to go against the tide and ran in the gap, allowing him to shoot up to provisional pole until Armstrong returned to the top of the order a few minutes later.

The New Zealander appeared to be on course for his maiden F2 pole, but that accolade would fall elsewhere as seemingly out of nowhere, Japanese rookie Iwasa threw down purple sector after purple sector to clock in a 1m 27.930s, while his rivals slowly made their way back into the pits.

Pourchaire’s attempts to claw back Drugovich’s advantage in the title fight were given a helping hand as he’ll line up alongside the Brazilian driver in Sunday’s Feature Race. Williams Racing Academy junior Logan Sargeant made sure all the top three championship contenders would start inside the top five, as he pipped Juri Vips by 0.010s.

Vesti’s early pace could only translate into seventh, ahead of Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger. Enzo Fittipaldi secured ninth, as Alpine junior Jack Doohan made the best of a challenging session to hold off Liam Lawson and claim the reverse grid pole in P10.

The Formula 2 action continues when the lights go out for Saturday’s Sprint Race at 1800 local time.

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