Russell Seals 5th Pole Position for F2 Championship Decider
2019 Williams Racing Formula One Driver George Russell, took his fifth FIA Formula 2 Championship Pole Position of the season, banking an extra four championship points heading into the championship deciding finale.
Russell started Friday well, by setting the quickest time in the Free Practice session - putting himself in a prime position to challenge for pole in the qualifying session, which took place under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit.
The ART Grand Prix and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Reserve Driver was immediately quick out of the blocks, topping the times after the first runs - being the only driver to dip below the 1:50s barrier. Russell's first run put him 0.4s ahead of championship rival Alexander Albon and the rest of the field.
As the majority of the field returned to the pits after thieir first runs, the Prema Racing and DAMS drivers Nyck de Vries and Nicholas Latifi chose to 'run in the gap', while the track was quieter in order to set their first timed laps. The pair managed to usurp Russell's time, moving into 1st and 2nd respectively as the session ticked over to the final ten-minutes.
The field then began to filter back onto the circuit for their final flying laps. ART did brilliantly to get Russell out in great track position, as he kept behind a large group of cars on his warm up laps in the final fight for pole position.
Russell put in a personal best first sector, the best second sector of the session and another personal best final sector - setting a 1:49.251s lap to vault back up to the top of the times with a minute of the session remaining.
It was then a waiting game to see if Russell's time would remain on top. The biggest threat came from de Vries, who was setting personal best sectors. Despite improving his previous time, de Vries was unable to pip Russell to pole position - as the BRDC Superstar took his fifth pole position by 0.290s.
Russell bagged the four extra points for pole position, meaning he now has a 41-point lead in the Driver's Championship over rival Albon - who qualified in 8th position for tomorrows first race of the season finale.
The 31-lap Feature Race begins at 18:40 (GMT +4), with the race shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD.
With a possible 44 points on offer in the remaining two races of the season, tomorrow has the potential to be a championship deciding race in the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Photos: FIA Formula 2 Media