British driver Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam, 1m23.301s) claimed pole position for the 25th race of the 2017 FIA Formula 3 European Championship season at the 4.318 kilometres long Red Bull Ring. Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam, 1m23.317s) will be starting from second place ahead of Joel Eriksson (Motopark, 1m23.496s) and points’ leader Lando Norris (Carlin, 1m23.548s). Thus, all four drivers who are still in the title race are on one of the first two rows of the grid.
Rookie driver Lando Norris could already seal the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title this weekend and he wanted to get himself into the perfect position to do so during first qualifying. Towards the halfway point, the McLaren junior driver topped the time sheets, only for his compatriot Callum Ilott to take over first place soon after that. Maximilian Günther, currently second in the drivers’ standings, and Joel Eriksson, who ranks in third place in the championship, moved ahead of the Brit.
In the closing stages, other drivers managed to improve their personal best times, so that Lando Norris dropped back more and more. However, the title favourite struck back and moved up into third place with three minutes remaining. While Eriksson increased his speed once more soon after that, Norris eventually had to make do with fourth place.
In fifth place, Tadasuke Makino (Hitech Grand Prix, 1m23.574s) confirmed his strong performance. Next up was Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix, 1m23.585s) while David Beckmann (Motopark, 1m23.588s), Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1m23.624s), Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1m23.651s) and Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin, 1m23.694s) rounded out the top ten.
However, both Mawson and Habsburg came to Spielberg with a penalty. At the Nürburgring a fortnight ago, both incurred a three places’ grid penalty for causing a collision, so that their grid positions for tomorrow’s first race will be changed accordingly.
How close things are in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship became clear by the gap between pace setter Callum Ilott and Devlin DeFrancesco (Carlin, 1m24.189s), who is competing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for the first time. The novice, who ended up 18th, was only 0.888 seconds slower than the stalwart.
Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam): “Pre-season testing was good here for us, so obviously I had a good baseline coming into this weekend. I was already quickest in free practice. Going into this session it took me a little while to get into the qualifying. Just two laps towards the end I put it together; just enough to beat Maximilian. It is quite close between the four championship contenders. It should be interesting for the race. Overall it was a really good session.”