Oscar Piastri took his fourth consecutive feature race pole by leading a Prema one-two in FIA Formula 2 qualifying at the penultimate round in Saudi Arabia.
The Australian was 0.165 seconds quicker than team-mate Robert Shwartzman, and extended his title lead over nearest rival Guanyu Zhou to 40 points ahead of the weekend’s three races on the new Jeddah street circuit.
Shwartzman led from Piastri in the early stages of the 30-minute session, before ART’s Theo Pourchaire lapped quicker than the pair, with his team-mate Christian Lundgaard moving up to fourth.
An improvement put Shwartzman back on top by 0.029s approaching the halfway mark, as drivers returned to the pits for fresh tyres.
Zhou, who recently secured a 2022 Formula 1 drive with Alfa Romeo, moved up to third for Virtuosi on returning to the track, while Ralph Boschung went fourth quickest for Campos.
A further improvement briefly put Zhou second, before Pourchaire leapt to the top once more.
But Piastri bettered the Frenchman’s time by over 0.3s with a mighty lap, with Shwartzman securing his second feature race race front-row spot of the season on his final effort.
ART will have both of its cars lining up on the second row, with Lundgaard just behind team-mate Pourchaire in fourth.
Felipe Drugovich also improved on his final lap of the session to beat Virtuosi team-mate Zhou to fifth, while Boschung ended up seventh ahead of Hitech’s Juri Vips.
Marcus Armstrong was ninth for DAMS, ahead of fellow Kiwi Liam Lawson, who will start from the front for Hitech in Saturday’s opening sprint race, in which the top positions from qualifying are reversed.
Jehan Daruvala missed out on the top ten by 0.2s, qualifying 11th for Carlin, while 2019 BRDC British F3 champion and FIA F3 graduate Clement Novalak impressed with 12th on his F2 debut for MP Motorsport.
Having been hampered by a puncture on his second run, Dan Ticktum was only 13th for Carlin ahead of Trident’s Bent Viscaal.
Jack Doohan was 16th on his series bow for MP Motorsport, with fellow debutants Olli Caldwell 19th for Campos and Logan Sargeant 21st for HWA, the latter having earlier damaged his car by crashing in free practice.
1 Oscar Piastri Prema 1m40.878s
2 Robert Shwartzman Prema +0.165s
3 Theo Pourchaire ART +0.340s
4 Christian Lundgaard ART+0.419s
5 Felipe Drugovich Virtuosi +0.424s
6 Guanyu Zhou Virtuosi +0.472s
7 Ralph Boschung Campos +0.654s
8 Juri Vips Hitech +0.732s
9 Marcus Armstrong DAMS +0.740s
10 Liam Lawson Hitech +0.741s
11 Jehan Daruvala Carlin +0.983s
12 Clement Novalak MP Motorsport +1.012s
13 Dan Ticktum Carlin +1.082s
14 Bent Viscaal Trident +1.094s
15 Roy Nissany DAMS +1.198s
16 Jack Doohan MP Motorsport +1.236s
17 Marino Sato Trident +1.588s
18 Enzo Fittipaldi Charouz +1.992s
19 Olli Caldwell Campos +2.041s
20 Guilherme Samaia Charouz +2.544s
21 Logan Sargeant HWA +2.603s
22 Alessio Deledda HWA no time
Featured image credit: @fia_f2 official twitter