The battle for pole position at the Macau Grand Prix is set to be a thriller, after a full eight drivers were covered by less than half a second around the ultra-demanding 6.2 km street track in final practice on Friday morning.
Joel wound up sixth quickest in the session, just over three tenths behind pace-setter Mick Schumacher, as all top six drivers – which also featured Callum Ilott, Jüri Vips, Jake Hughes and Dan Ticktum – dipped below the 2m11s barrier.
Marcus Armstrong and Alex Palou were the other two to lap within half a second of Schumacher’s benchmark time, setting up a potentially massive showdown in the decisive second qualifying session later this afternoon.
Joel was on pole in Macau in 2017 after topping the Friday qualifying session on a 2m10.720s. Indications are strong that times will be considerably quicker than that this year, with Schumacher’s practice best this morning already a 2m10.674s.
Joel was seventh fastest in the first qualifying session yesterday, recording his time on a set of used tyres. Ticktum was quickest and is consequently on provisional pole for Saturday’s Qualification Race, but with times – as said – expected to tumble in Qualifying 2, it could be all change in a couple of hours.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 15.10 local time
QUOTE – JOEL
We got the answers we wanted from this session. We made some changes to the car overnight, and they worked as planned. I could attack more into the corners and brake later, so a step in the right direction. Qualifying is most likely going to be extremely close, but I think we’re in the fight. I’ll give it my all: if ever there’s a time to take risks around here, it’s in final qualifying.”
Results – Free Practice 2