Swiss ahead of championship rival for race one
Mathéo Tuscher made the most of the changeable conditions during today’s (Saturday) thrilling Formula Two qualifying session at Monza to snatch pole by just 0.196s from championship leader Luciano Bacheta.
Overnight rain and heavy cloud cover had left the track damp but drying for the 30-minute session with the threat of rain still looming. As the green flag was waved, the field was split on a mixture of wets and slicks with the early pace-setters being those on wets.
As the track continued to dry though, those on slicks were now setting the quicker times with Axcil Jefferies leading the way at the halfway point, closely followed by Dino Zamparelli and Mirocha, while title rivals Bacheta and Tuscher headed to pits to switch to slicks.
Meanwhile, Christopher Zanella was only just emerging on track with the rest of the field now diving into the pits to change tyres with 10-minutes left on the clock and no sign of any rain.
Disaster then struck for Bacheta with a spin at the second chicane whilst avoiding a backmarker, with the Brit able to return to the pits, before Max Snegirev went off at the first Lesmo to bring out the red flag with six minutes remaining.
After the restart, Tuscher and Bacheta then went first and second with the two posting identical sector two times with a flurry of activity behind them as drivers ‚raced‘ each other for track position and clear air.
The Swiss teenager though hung on to take his fourth pole of the season and give himself the best chance of preventing Bacheta from being crowned champion this afternoon.
Zanella’s strategy was enough to secure him P4 for today’s 21-lap race ahead of Zamparelli and Alex Fontana. Mihai Marinescu, who picked up his maiden win here last year, ended seventh followed by Jefferies, equalling his best ever qualifying result. Latvian newcomer Harald Schlegelmilch finished ninth with Markus Pommer, the only other title contender, enduring a disappointing session to round out the top 10.
Speaking afterwards Tuscher said: "I had a good feeling on the wet tyres and think I was running P2 which was good. It took a bit of time to get them up to temperature though as the track was still quite cold and wet in places. Before switching onto slicks we made some changes to the set-up and I think we did a great job to find a good set up. I did my quickest lap on the penultimate one. On my last lap though I was faster but in between Ascari and the Parabolica I tried to overtake Marinescu but I couldn’t and didn’t improve."
Today’s opening race (round 15) gets underway at 14:30 (local time) with full coverage, including live streaming, on the official F2 website.
F2 Results: Monza – Qualifying 1:
1. Mathéo Tuscher, 1:45.536s
2. Luciano Bacheta, +0.196s
3. Kevin Mirocha, +0.448s
4. Christopher Zanella, +0.499s
5. Dino Zamparelli, +0.637s
6. Alex Fontana, +0.696s
7. Mihai Marinescu, +0.733s
8. Axcil Jefferies, +0.937s
9. Harald Schlegelmilch, +1.434s
10. Markus Pommer, +1.623s
11. Hector Hurst, +2.103s
12. Daniel McKenzie, +2.775s
13. David Zhu, +3.213s
14. Max Snegirev, +6.041s
15. Plamen Kralev, +6.080s