Williams F1 test driver Alex Lynn grabbed his second GP2 pole position in a dramatic qualifying session at a wet/dry Sochi Autodrom: the DAMS racer set the best laptime of 2:01.850 in the dying minutes ahead of Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi.
The pitlane opened in cooler temperatures than this morning’s free practice, and on a wet track. But as the clock ticked down, the conditions improved (but not enough that the drivers could switch to slick Pirelli tyres), and so did the laptimes with the top spot switching hands constantly. It rapidly became clear that the pole position would be decided on everyone’s final attempt.
All eyes were on Series leader Vandoorne and his title rival Rossi: the Belgian topped the timesheets midway through the session, but the American bettered Vandoorne’s laptime by two tenths with ten minutes left on the clock.
The final stages saw an epic denouement: Pierre Gasly went P1 ahead of Arthur Pic, but Rossi improved again to edge out the Frenchman from DAMS from the top spot. Then Vandoorne dipped under 2m02s and went top, but Lynn crossed the finish line seconds later with a laptime good enough to deny the Belgian. He had no other choice but to go for a final try.
As Lynn returned to the pits, Vandoorne was stuck in a bit of traffic in the final sector. He decided to slow down in order to create a gap to the cars in front of him, and get ready for one last charge for pole. Unfortunately, he lifted off a bit too much and crossed the finish line a mere second after the chequered flag dropped and had to settle for second ahead of Rossi. Gasly, Pic, Johnny Cecotto, Raffaele Marciello, Richie Stanaway, Norman Nato and Sergey Sirotkin completed the top ten.
1 Alex Lynn DAMS 02:01.8 11
2 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 02:01.840
3 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 02:01.878
4 Pierre Gasly DAMS 02:02.141
5 Arthur Pic Campos Racing 02:02.285
6 Johnny Cecotto Trident 02:02.690
7 Raffaele Marciello Trident 02:02.709
8 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 02:02.998
9 Norman Nato Arden International 02:03.133
10 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 02:03.223
11 André Negrao Arden International 02:03.382
12 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 02:03.519
13 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 02:03.523
14 Jordan King* Racing Engineering 02:03.622
15 Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport 02:03.731
16 Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 02:03.751
17 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 02:04.004
18 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 02:04.072
19 Dean Stoneman Carlin 02:04.093
20 Nathanaël Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus 02:04.658
21 Rene Binder MP Motorsport 02:05.995
22 Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus 02:05.998
23 Robert Visoiu* Rapax 02:05.784
24 Sean Gelael Carlin 02:08.361