Hitech Grand Prix cemented their place as the team to beat in Baku with a one-two in FIA Formula 2 Championship Qualifying, as Liam Lawson stormed to a first pole position in Formula 2, ahead of teammate Jüri Vips. Lapping at 1:54.217, Lawson finished just over a tenth faster than his fellow Red Bull junior, with Oscar Piastri a further 0.153s back.
“I haven’t had a pole position in such a long time,” commented Lawson. “I had one last year in Formula 3, but it was because in front having penalties, so it doesn’t really count.
“To have it outright on track is pretty cool. Especially considering where we were this morning after Free Practice. Jüri did a mega lap so I have him to thank for his data, and I had a lot to work so I focused on all the main points we needed to work on. I think the whole qualifying session we were strong, both cars always in the top five. So yeah, I’m really really happy.”
Marcus Armstrong, qualifying in sixth, set the early pace before being usurped by Dan Ticktum and then Théo Pourchaire inside of the opening 10 minutes, with the latter slicing the quickest lap down to 1:55.455.
The trio traded first between them as they headed towards the midway point and it was Armstrong who was top of the class as the cars headed back to the pits for fresh supersofts, the DAMS driver setting the fastest time in Baku so far, with 1:55.057.
Hitech Grand Prix looked like the ones to beat as Lawson leapt to first, punching in two purple sectors to lap at 1:54.332. Lawson’s teammate Vips – who had topped Free Practice – improved as well, jumping from fifth to second, 0.023s off the leading pace.
Ticktum improved, but not as much as he would have liked, with the carlin driver settling for P5, ahead of Armstrong. Despite holding provisional pole after the first runs, the DAMS driver wasn’t able to keep up with the pace in the second half of the session.
Rookie duo Piastri and Théo Pourchaire had snuck into third and fourth during the second runs but it was an all-Hitech shoot-out for pole, as Lawson and Vips set off on one final set of push laps in a league of their own.
Vips had to watch on as his teammate took pole, with Lawson shaving his time down to 1:54.217, while the Estonian racer failed to improve, losing four-tenths in the middle sector.
Second fastest in Free Practice, Ralph Boschung finished Qualifying in seventh, ahead of Guanyu Zhou, who was one of the final drivers to return from the pits in the second half of the session.
Finishing 10th overall, Robert Shwartzman will start ahead of Jehan Daruvala in Saturday’s reverse grid Sprint Race 1, which takes place at 11.25am local time.