Piastri on pole, Zhou eliminated from Formula 2 title fight in Abu Dhabi

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Oscar Piastri knocked Guanyu Zhou out of Formula 2 title contention with his fifth successive pole position in a row in Abu Dhabi.

After topping the single practice session earlier on Friday, Piastri was on top for much of the night-time qualifying session but had to respond late on to flying laps from fellow Alpine junior Zhou and Red Bull junior Jack Doohan.

The pole surprised the Prema team, which took to the radio to ask Piastri how he had managed to top qualifying.

Doohan, in just his second F2 appearance, was denied pole with just under two minutes to go as he posted a 1”35’077. After that, there were too many cars on track for drivers to be able to improve on their fastest laps and so the additional four points were secured for Piastri.

The result makes his Prema team mate Robert Shwartzman’s job harder, as he is now 55.5 points behind with 61 available to score in the weekend’s three races. Shwartzman qualified fourth, meaning he will start seventh and three places ahead of Piastri in Saturday’s first reversed grid race.

MP driver Doohan secured a front row starting spot for Sunday’s feature race as he bettered Virtuosi’s Zhou by 0.058 seconds.

Campos’s Ralph Boschung had been Piastri’s closest rival at times throughout the session, and even provisionally put himself on pole halfway through qualifying when a flurry of improvements meant Trident’s Marino Sato and Shwartzman also briefly went to the top, but he ended up qualifying fifth and just ahead of ART’s Theo Pourchaire and Hitech’s Liam Lawson.

Dan Ticktum did not get to make the most of a gripped-up track at the end and he sat at the bottom of a closely matched top nine, behind Virtuosi’s Felipe Drugovich whose sponsors have confirmed he will be departing the team for next season.

Ticktum’s Carlin team mate Jehan Daruvala qualified tenth, but will get to begin Saturday’s action from pole with the reversed grid format.

Jeddah sprint race winner Marcus Armstrong was marginally slower but will start 10 places lower in 11th for that race, while ART’s IndyCar-bound Christian Lundgaard complained about the pace of drivers on their out-laps and he could do no better than 12th.

Formula 2 qualifying results

1Oscar Piastri1’35.077
2Jack Doohan1’35.290
3Guanyu Zhou1’35.348
4Robert Shwartzman1’35.360
5Ralph Boschung1’35.496
6Theo Pourchaire1’35.504
7Liam Lawson1’35.511
8Felipe Drugovich1’35.612
9Dan Ticktum1’35.618
10Jehan Daruvala1’35.821
11Marcus Armstrong1’35.855
12Christian Lundgaard1’36.016
13Roy Nissany1’36.080
14Marino Sato1’36.241
15Juri Vips1’36.282
16Richard Verschoor1’36.293
17Bent Viscaal1’36.312
18Jake Hughes1’36.462
19Olli Caldwell1’36.570
20Clement Novalak1’36.722
21Guilherme Samaia1’36.741
22Alessio Deledda1’38.657

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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8 comments on “Piastri on pole, Zhou eliminated from Formula 2 title fight in Abu Dhabi”

  1. That was a great lap from Doohan who seems to have some speed.

    1. He was excellent in F3 this year, definitely one to watch next season.

  2. It makes further mockery of the idea that the best track drivers are in F1.

    1. “The best” drivers have never all been in one series – least of all F1. There’s far too much focus on money, and then there’s the whole car performance factor in F1.
      ‘The best’ drivers don’t always get the fastest cars, and the most successful drivers are rarely much, if any, better than the rest of the field.
      F1’s all just an illusion for the benefit of the uninitiated.

      A show, in other words.

      1. agreed, and why people will watch a manke series like formula e going forward. better show of driver skill. (and yes people will say F1 is a team sport). exactly why drivers championshipsa are worth nothing. the only championship in F1 worth winning is the constructors. driver champ means nothing if the best drivers dont make it into a full time race seat.

  3. All Australian front row. Brilliant! Pretty impressive stuff from Doohan. Piastri really just needs to have a clean few races to bring it home from here. A shame he hasn’t stepped up to F1 for next year. I wonder if that would be the case if the F2 season finished in October with him as champion.

    1. Doubt it, @tommy-c. He’d already made it clear he is quick and consistent long before October.
      As always with F1 – if a team wants a driver enough, they get them. If not, they don’t. It’s only money.

  4. Piastri showing the world that he is F1 caliber yet Zhou gets the F1 seat due to €100’s millions of ccp state backed funding buying him a seat to be a walking billboard to sportswash the countries image..

    Also its truly disgusting that Deledda is allowed to race in F2, how can you be 3 seconds off pole in a spec series!?

    Obviously Zhou isn’t the same level of pathetic as Deledda but Deledda does not deserves to be in f2 like zhou does not deserve to be in f1.

    The FIA needs to overhaul the superlicence points system to stop ‘gaming’ and have stricter racing licence criteria to prevent drivers who do not meet minimum quality standards racing in the top two tiers of motorsport.

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