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F2: Zhou takes pole by 0.003s for Bahrain Feature Race despite reprimand from stewards

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 26: Pole position qualifier Guanyu Zhou of China and UNI-Virtuosi Racing

The new season of Formula 2 got off to a dramatic start in Sakhir, as Guanyu Zhou snatched the first pole of the year from his fellow Alpine Academy driver Christian Lundgaard by just 0.003s. Zhou was later reprimanded for taking the chequered flag twice after the session, but kept his polesitter status.

ART Grand Prix’s Lundgaard had put in a storming lap with just a minute on the clock and confidently returned to the pits, knowing he’d given his all. He then watched on as Dan Ticktum, Richard Verschoor and Juri Vips all failed to go quicker.

However, UNI-Virtuosi duo Zhou and Felipe Drugovich both beat the chequered flag to give themselves one last shot at bettering Lundgaard’s provisional pole time of 1m42.851s. Drugovich failed to do so and finished third, but Zhou put in a personal best first sector and a fastest overall second sector to knock Lundgaard down to second by three thousandths of a second.

READ MORE: 5 drivers you should be watching closely in Formula 2 this season

But immediately after the session, stewards announced they had summoned Zhou for taking the chequered flag and returning to the F1 pit lane, rather than the support race pit lane as required by the Race Director. He – along with numerous other drivers – was given a reprimand, rather than a penalty. Vips was then disqualified from qualifying for a technical infringement.

Zhou will therefore start the opening Feature Race of the season on Sunday from pole. Before that though there are two Sprint Races on Saturday, with debutant Theo Pourchaire - who qualified P10 - starting Sprint Race 1 from reverse grid pole on Saturday at 1325 local time.

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