Norman Nato continued his impressive start to the 2016 GP2 Series season by scoring pole position at Silverstone on Friday in the narrowest of circumstances.
Racing Engineering’s Nato found himself embroiled in a battle with Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly for pole, edging out the Frenchman with five minutes remaining.
However, Nato crossed the line just as the session was red flagged following a stoppage for Oliver Rowland, leaving to a post-qualifying investigation to see whether the lap would be allowed.
Stewards were satisfied that Nato’s lap of 1:38.216 was posted before the session was red flagged, handing him pole for Saturday’s feature race at Silverstone.
“It was very close!” Nato – also celebrating his birthday on Friday – said. “On the first set I was P2 behind Pierre, their speed was much quicker than us, and I didn’t put my lap together the way I wanted.
“On the second set we didn’t touch the car: I just said to my engineer I wanted to improve the lap just with my driving because I knew were to improve, and this was what I did.
“We were a bit lucky with what happened with the red flag, but in motorsport you need luck sometimes: I’ve been unlucky in Monaco, today I’m lucky, and it’s good for me.”
Gasly was left to settle for second place, two-tenths of a second behind, while Nicholas Latifi was one of a handful of drivers to improve after the red flag, qualifying third.
Raffaele Marciello ended the session fourth ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, who will start the race from the pit lane after failing to visit the weighbridge when requested during the session.
Antonio Giovinazzi will start fifth ahead of Mitch Evans, Jordan King and Arthur Pic, while Oliver Rowland will line up ninth on the grid despite his spin. Artem Markelov rounds out the top 10.