After the collective test session, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series was back on the street circuit for qualifying. The drivers were split into two groups, each having 25-minutes to battle for pole position.
Oliver Rowland by 5/10ths of a second
In the first group, Oliver Rowland set the first timed lap. Despite the attempts of Meindert van Buuren (Lotus), Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) and Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing), the Englishman was back on top before a stoppage caused by the accident of Philopaz Armand (Pons Racing). When the session resumed, Oliver Rowland improved and answered the attacks coming from his rivals. His lap of 1:24.370 put him ahead of Nyck de Vries, Tio Ellinas, Pietro Fantin, and Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing).
Jazeman Jaafar on pole position
Jazeman Jaafar set the pace in Group B. Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport) led briefly, but the Malay native improved on several occasions to consolidate his best time. Shod with new tyres, The Malay put the hammer down. Only Dean Stoneman could go quicker, but for just a few moments. The Fortec Motorsports driver dominated his group with a best time of 1:23.425, followed by Matthieu Vaxiviere, Dean Stoneman, Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Egor Orudzhev.
The race will start this Sunday at 11h10. It will be 40-minutes plus one lap, with no mandatory pit stop.
Jazeman Jaafar : ”Finally, my first pole ! I’ve done it after three years and preparation was the key this year, in addition to having an excellent team mate. The car was fantastic and the track improved lap after lap. I made the most of these elements to put in a good lap and I am very happy ! With Oliver by my side, it promises to be a loyal duel. We know each other well and I am going to concentrate on my race. My only objective is the win.”
Oliver Rowland : “Like Jazeman said, the car was fantastic. We help and push one another. I knew that if the conditions were normal, I would have been on the other side of the grid, but I did my best. I probably had a slightly easier group, but that’s the way it goes ! Among all the strange things that can happen here, the start will be the key to victory. The best is to win, but the main objective will be to score a lot of points.”
Dean Stoneman : “The session could have gone a bit better, but it is a good result for a first time at Monaco. Everything is completely different on the track. It was an old dream to be here. I made a small mistake in touching the wall. After that, the car reacted differently, but I kept going, while trying not to throw out what I had because the Armco is always nearby. Tomorrow, tyre degradation will have to be watched especially on traction. It will be hard, but I will have to jump some places at the start and hope to fight for the podium.”