Logan Sargeant left it as late as possible to snatch pole position for the Feature Race in Le Castellet, narrowly edging out Ayumu Iwasa and Frederik Vesti by the slimmest of margins.
Iwasa had held provisional pole entering the final laps and Vesti couldn’t quite match him, ending up 0.023s down on the DAMS driver’s effort. Sargeant pulled out the time though, just 0.006s of it, but that was good enough to put him on pole for Sunday’s race.
Championship leader Felipe Drugovich will start from fourth while home favourite Théo Pourchaire will line up P6, the pair sandwiching Jack Doohan in P5.
Drivers took extra care on their preparation laps to keep the soft compound as intact as possible for their flying laps with temperatures remaining high for the Qualifying session.
The MP Motorsport duo were the first to get a representative time on the board but those further behind were finding better pace. Doohan narrowly headed up the pack by 0.007s from Jüri Vips with a 1:44.953. The gap back to Iwasa was two-tenths with Richard Verschoor and Sargeant following in the top five.
Many had expected the first run on fresh tyres to count the most but there were plenty of personal and session bests on the subsequent laps on the same set. Pourchaire was the next to go fastest but he was quickly deposed by Sargeant. The Carlin driver went clear at the top with a 1:44.599, a time Doohan couldn’t quite match. Iwasa split the two to move himself into second while Verschoor leapt back up to P4 after Doohan had his second time deleted to keep himself and Trident in the mix.
Drivers boxed with 15 minutes remaining for the customary change of tyres and the waiting game began as teams targeted the best of the track conditions in the final third of the session. As the clock ticked underneath 11 minutes to go the field poured back out onto the circuit once more.
Enzo Fittipaldi didn’t join them though and was out of the car unable to take part in the final 10 minutes due to an issue on his car. Dennis Hauger joined the Brazilian on the sidelines shortly afterwards, coming to a halt on track and bringing out the red flags with just over seven minutes left of Qualifying.
The track temperature had fallen slightly in the short gap ahead of the resumption of the session and drivers were quick to get their preparation laps out of the way with the clock ticking down and time very tight to get two clean runs in with a cooldown lap in between them.
Drugovich was the first to get his next lap on the board and took the top spot for a matter of moments. Vesti was the first into the 43s, slotting in at the top of the timing screen until Iwasa snuck ahead by a tenth on a 1:43.877 for provisional pole.
With time running out, the fight for track position was crucial in order to get another lap in. The chequered flag flew a fraction too soon for Iwasa’s liking, and he lost out on the chance for a final flying lap.
Drugovich was in clear air though and he lifted himself into third. Vesti narrowly missed out by just 0.023s on Iwasa’s time. Sargeant was further back and made his final lap count, finding the time to take pole position at the very last with a 1:43.871. Just 0.029s separated the top three.
Drugovich fell to fourth by the end with Doohan rounding out the top five. Pourchaire ended up sixth ahead of Vips, Marcus Armstrong, Liam Lawson and Jehan Daruvala, who will start on reverse grid pole in the Sprint Race tomorrow.