Joel has sealed a preliminary grid slot of fifth for Saturday’s Qualification Race at the Macau Grand Prix, abstaining from the use of any new tyres in opening qualifying.
Unlike this morning’s free practice session, which ran largely without trouble and in which Joel was second fastest, first qualifying at the Guia street track was blighted by a full four red-flag stoppages amid a sequence of crashes.
The worst of those struck Joel’s Motopark with VEB team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara, who hit the guardrail violently at the bumpy Fishermen’s bend in an accident which brought about lengthy delays due to barrier repairs.
At that point, Joel sat fourth on the timesheets, but he was bumped to fifth by FIA F3 European champion Lando Norris once running finally resumed – the Briton using new tyres to improve by over two seconds and haul himself all the way to first place in the closing moments.
As it was, Norris led the way from Pedro Piquet, Maximilian Günther, Dan Ticktum and Joel, who decided not to fit any new tyres (instead saving his allocation until later in the week).
Macau GP rules stipulate that each driver has access to 3,5 sets of tyres for the duration of the four-day event.
Thursday’s qualifying results provide the provisional grid for Saturday’s Qualification Race, but the final starting order will not be set until the second qualifying session has been contested tomorrow.
Next session: Free Practice 2, 11.45 local time (GMT+08:00) on Friday.
“I feel comfortable, no issues. We experimented a bit with our set-up in the first part of the session, and we’ve decided which way to go tomorrow. That’s the most important bit. The gap to Lando was quite large in the end, but I think that’s mainly down to tyres. After all, I was ahead of him before the break, so I’m not really worried. Tomorrow is when it really counts, and I’m optimistic that we can do a good job.”
RESULTS – Qualifying 1