Daniel Ticktum claims pole position at Pau

Daniel Ticktum (Motopark, 1m10.013s) posted the fastest time in first qualifying of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Pau in the south of France and will be allowed to start the first race of the 2018 season from pole position as a result. The Red Bull-backed Brit was 0.009 seconds faster than Ferrari junior driver Guanyu Zhou (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1m10.022s) around the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit. Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin, 1m10.208s) and Ralf Aron (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1m10.061s) will be lining up on the second row of the grid, the two fastest rookies Robert Shvartzman (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1m10.223s) and Sacha Fenestraz (Carlin, 1m10.191s) will follow on row three.

Due to the comparatively short length of the Circuit de Pau, FIA Formula 3 European Championship qualifying was held in two separate groups. These were formed according to the results of the preceding free practice sessions: the drivers classified in odd positions (first, third, fifth etc.) were assigned to group A, drivers with an even position (second, fourth, sixth etc.) formed group B.

In group A, Fabio Scherer (Motopark, 1m10.534s) moved up into the lead after the first fast laps. Later, Jehan Daruvala (Carlin, 1m10.304s) took over first place before Mick Schumacher (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1m11.093s) crashed into the tyre stacks due to a broken suspension. For the German, qualifying was over prematurely. Then, Sacha Fenestraz posted the best lap time until then but lost the lead to Ralf Aron with four minutes remaining. The Estonian wasn’t certain about his top position either. Two minutes before the end of the session, Formula 3 stalwart Guanyu Zhou initially moved up into third place and then improved to first with two seconds remaining. Behind Zhou, Aron, Fenestraz, Daruvala, Marcus Armstrong (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1m10.324s) and Scherer followed in group A.

In the second group, Ferdinand Habsburg was in front at the halfway point, but then had to hand his position to Daniel Ticktum. With only two minutes left, Robert Shvartzman and Alex Palou (Hitech Bullfrog GP, 1m10.356s) moved ahead of the Austrian into second and third place respecitively. However, Habsburg was also able to improve and he moved back up into second place in the final minute, although he turned out to be unable to mount a challenge to Ticktum. The Brit emerged with the fastest time. Behind Ticktum and Habsburg, the order in the top six of group B was Shvartzman, Palou, Enaam Ahmed (Hitech Bullfrog GP; 1m10.357s) and Marino Sato (Motopark, 1m10.365s).

Daniel Ticktum (Motopark): “First place is a good start into the new season. It was very close in qualifying and I am happy that it was enough for me to claim first place, even though my fastest lap today wasn’t perfect. Since my victory in Macau at the latest, I am feeling really comfortable at street circuits. Generally, a street circuit is always special because the slightest mistake can make you already end up in the barriers. I think that the secret of success is finding the right balance between attack and safe mode.”