Russian goes quickest in PREMA 1-2-3, ahead of Daruvala and Armstrong

Robert Shwartzman switched on the styled when it counted, scoring his first pole position since Round 1 in Barcelona, to put himself within touching distance of the FIA Formula 3 crown.

The Russian was rampant on home turf, fighting off strong sprints from both of his teammates to finish at the peak of a PREMA Racing 1-2-3. Jehan Daruvala secured second in the dying embers, while Marcus Armstrong settled for third.

With the title at stake, PREMA duo Shwartzman and Daruvala were first out on track and set fast flying laps, but both had to settle for a place beneath Free Practice pacesetter Marcus Armstrong.

Despite them starting so strongly, Niko Kari continued his upward turn of form to snatch provisional pole from the grasp of PREMA, climbing ahead of them with a lap of 1:53.845. Shwartzman found another gear shortly after to leap to the peak of the times, just ahead of Armstrong and the Finn.

The cars dived into the pits for a freshen up ahead of the second stint and Kari returned in similarly determined fashion, once again going top thanks to a purple sector 2. This forced Shwartzman to find further pace once more and yet again he obliged, returning to P1 with a time of under 1m 53s.

Armstrong attempted to better his teammate, but a slight wobble lost him time and he could only manage second. Meanwhile, Kari looked to have given it all he had, as slow second and third sectors cost him.

When the chequered flag was waved, the two title challengers had one last shot at pole and went head-to-head. Daruvala crossed the line first and briefly took P1, but he was shunted to second when Shwartzman nailed the perfect lap, firing in three purple sectors.

The title challenger now holds a 37-point lead in the Championship with just 44 left to play for. He starts ahead of his main rival Daruvala tomorrow, followed by the third PREMA of Armstrong. Kari and Christian Lundgaard complete the top five, ahead of Jake Hughes, Pedro Piquet, Leonardo Pulcini, Jüri Vips and Max Fewtrell.

The enthralling title battle could come to a close tomorrow morning, when racing returns at 10.15am (local time).

2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship Round 8 – Qualifying provisional classification

1 Robert Shwartzman PREMA Racing 1:52.583 14
2 Jehan Daruvala PREMA Racing 1:52.775 14
3 Marcus Armstrong PREMA Racing 1:52.853 13
4 Niko Kari Trident 1:53.191 12
5 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 1:53.274 14
6 Jake Hughes HWA RACELAB 1:53.340 12
7 Pedro Piquet Trident 1:53.349 13
8 Leonardo Pulcini Hitech Grand Prix 1:53.451 13
9 Juri Vips Hitech Grand Prix 1:53.530 13
10 Max Fewtrell ART Grand Prix 1:53.539 13
11 Felipe Drugovich Carlin Buzz Racing 1:53.550 12
12 Logan Sargeant Carlin Buzz Racing 1:53.643 12
13 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 1:53.824 14
14 Bent Viscaal HWA RACELAB 1:53.842 12
15 Raoul Hyman Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1:53.877 14
16 Devlin DeFrancesco Trident 1:53.882 13
17 Yuki Tsunoda Jenzer Motorsport 1:53.938 13
18 Ye Yifei Hitech Grand Prix 1:53.943 13
19 Teppei Natori Carlin Buzz Racing 1:54.001 12
20 Sebastian Fernandez Campos Racing 1:54.046 12
21 Lirim Zendeli Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1:54.112 14
22 Fabio Scherer Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1:54.145 13
23 Liam Lawson MP Motorsport 1:54.557 13
24 Simo Laaksonen MP Motorsport 1:54.757 13
25 David Schumacher Campos Racing 1:54.889 13
26 Andreas Estner Jenzer Motorsport 1:54.912 13
27 Keyvan Andres HWA RACELAB 1:55.068 11
28 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing 1:56.251 12
29 Leong Hon Chio Jenzer Motorsport 1:57.166 10

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