FIA F3 European Championship organisers have released the composition of the two qualifying groups that will be in place for this weekend’s Grand Prix de Pau.
Round three of the 2017 season takes the F3 fraternity from the fastest circuit on the calendar (Monza) to the slowest, as attention turns to France and the tight confines of Pau.
The narrow nature of the challenging street track traditionally sees an alternative qualifying format being applied, with the field split in half to combat the risk of accidents and the potential impact of traffic.
The two groups for this year’s edition of the French classic have now been revealed, with the current championship standings being used to form them.
Drivers in odd positions in the standings (1st, 3rd, 5th etc.) will slot into qualifying group A, while drivers in even positions (2nd, 4th, 6th etc.) make up group B.
This means that Joel, who leads the championship by one point over Lando Norris heading into this weekend, will run in group A alongside the likes of Callum Ilott (currently third overall) and Mick Schumacher (fifth).
Norris, consequently, will slot into group B.
Grand Prix de Pau qualifying groups
* Subject to FIA confirmation
Pau qualifying system explained
While the concept of qualifying groups makes the Pau weekend slightly more complex than other rounds, the format is actually not that complicated.
The driver who sets the quickest time – regardless of which of the two groups he runs in – will start the relevant race in pole position, with the rest of the runners from that group filling the “odd” side of the grid in 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th etc. The drivers in the other, slower group then take up the “even” grid slots in 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc. Effectively, this sees group A lined up on one side of the track, and group B on the other.
As ever, all drivers will again be given 20 minutes in each of the two qualifying sessions to set their times. The grid for Race 1 is formed by the outcome of Qualifying 1, while Qualifying 2 determines the formation for races two and three.
Meanwhile, the “Grand Prix de Pau” title is formally reserved for the final race of the weekend – making it a prestigious finale – although the same amount of points will be at stake in each of the three encounters.