Carlos Sainz jnr. seized pole position at Monza for the Cooper Tyres British F3 series in fabulous style in the Carlin Motorsport Dallara Volkswagen with a brilliant 1m 46.575 second lap, narrowly beating the Fortec Mercedes cars of Felix Serralles and Alex Lynn.
It was a huge step forward from 5th fastest at the end of free practice on Friday. “We knew what changes we must do, it was quite clear after yesterday where the car needed to improve.” said Sainz with a huge smile. “ We did it really perfect, I never expected to do so many changes and have everything move in the right direction, I'm so happy about how it went. Unfortunately at this track pole is not so important but I am happy that the balance of the car is good.”
And the changes that made the difference? “Straight line speed and a couple of changes in the front part of the car.” The speed came from easing the rear wing and for the race Sainz knows that things will not be easy. “I will try to push, try to be always first, first, first, I know it will be nearly impossible with the straight line speed of Fortec but I think that we still have a good car to fight for the victory.”
On a grey day after overnight rain but with the sun trying to make an appearance the action started with plenty of damp patches but a mainly dry line as qualifying started a few minutes late, at 10.45 on Saturday morning. It took 3 laps for anyone even to get under 1m 50.
Carlos leapt into contention with his 6th lap, 3rd fastest behind Derani and Lynn who were in the pits. In fact all 4 Fortec men made tyre changes half way through the session. A few minutes later the Carlin men were doing the same. Sainz rejoined with 10 minutes remaining, slithering out of the still wet pit lane. He had climbed to 2nd fastest before his stop, with Derani still heading the table.
There was precious little time to get the new tyres up to temperature, with the long straights and the cool temperatures not helping. Lynn went fastest with a 1m 47.172, still well off his 1m 46.607 from free practice on Friday but it pushed Sainz to 3rd. The Spaniard was still warming his tyres and looking for track room with 6 minutes remaining.
Serralles moved ahead of the pack with a 1m 47.007 with 3 minutes to go. Sainz was 4th. Sainz jumped to the top at 1m 46.787 with 2 minutes to go only to be deposed by Seralles on 1m 46.768... so close.
Sainz back in front with just a minute remaining at 1m 46.575. and this time Seralles fell short at 1m 46.722 and van Asseldonk was the only other in the 1m 46 bracket as they went around on their final lap. Sainz did not go quicker on his final circuit but neither did Seralles or the rest.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Provisional qualifying times / Monza (ITA) / 14 April 2012
1 Carlos SAINZ / ESP, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 46.575s
2 Felix SERRALLES / PUR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 46.722s
3 Alex LYNN / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 46.779s
4 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 46.901s
5 Hannes VAN ASSELDONK / NED, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 46.951s
6 Pipo DERANI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 47.083s
7 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 47.219s
8 Harry TINCKNELL / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 47.562s
9 Nick McBRIDE / AUS, T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 1m 47.583s
10 Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 47.788s
11 Geoff UHRHANE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 1m 48.015s
12 Fahmi ILYAS / MAS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 1m 48.992s