Felix was involved in a titanic clash over pole position as qualifying for Sunday’s second FA1 race took centre stage at Portimão on Saturday morning, with the top three runners again dominating proceedings to lap within one tenth of a second.
In conditions slightly chillier than those experienced in Qualifying 1 yesterday afternoon, drivers managed to squeeze out two fast laps from the Michelin tyres, with Felix being the first of the expected frontrunners to hit the track some ten minutes into the session.
He immediately leapt to the top of the timesheets as he out-paced Team Germany’s Sebastian Balthasar by over a second, setting a time of 1m32.289s to beat yesterday’s pole position benchmark (set by Team Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti) by four tenths.
Bortolotti headed out just moments later, completing his first flying lap a wobbling 0.001 seconds slower than Felix to signal the start of a frantic battle for top slot.
On his second flyer, Bortolotti managed to edge out some vital extra fractions to demote Felix to second by just 0.085s, with Team Netherlands’s Nigel Melker then joining the scrap to take P2 – 0.001s adrift of Bortolotti – on his final attempt.
Felix set the fastest times of the session in both the first and second sectors, but lost a vital tenth in Sector 3 as he continued to suffer from the same inexplicable engine cut-off issues that have compromised the Team Sweden assault over a crest at the final corner. The outcome of the session will see Felix start from third on the grid for tomorrow’s 45-minutes feature race.
The 30-minute Race 1 – in which Felix will also set off from third – gets underway this afternoon.
“We have made some good progress overnight, and doing a second flying lap – something we didn’t do yesterday – was the right way to go in these slightly colder temperatures. We could have been on pole today if I’d just got my lap together; I made a couple of mistakes and we obviously lost some time due to the problems we’re having in the final corner. Being purple (outright fastest) in Sectors 1 and 2 indicates that the pace is there, although I would have loved to be on the front row considering how close it eventually was. We’re now focussing on the first race this afternoon – there will be a lot of unknowns, and another new experience for me. I’m ready to take the fight to Mirko and Nigel.”
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