ART Grand Prix’s George Russell claimed his first-ever Formula 2 pole position at Paul Ricard to end Alexander Albon’s run of early-season qualifying domination. 

The Mercedes Formula 1 junior bounced back from a disappointing round in Monaco - where he suffered two retirements during a forgettable weekend - to storm to pole position around the French Grand Prix venue. 

Russell led the way in the opening runs having posted a 1m45.248s, before the reigning GP3 champion lowered the benchmark by 0.5s on his next flying effort. 

Further improvements were found in the closing stages as Russell set a 1m44.469s to seal pole, 0.166s clear of DAMS driver Albon, who had claimed three poles at the last three events in Baku, Barcelona and Monaco. 

Championship leader Lando Norris set the pace in practice but will start Saturday’s feature race from the second-row, with Carlin teammate Sergio Sette Camara alongside as the Brazilian impressed on his return from a hand injury that ruled him out of both Monaco races. 

Campos' Luca Ghiotto was 0.6s off the pace in fifth, as Jack Aitken put his ART on the third row having recorded the sixth-quickest time.

Behind them came Russian Time’s Artem Markelov and Nyck de Vries, who had looked set for the front row until he was hampered by throttle issues in his Prema on his final run. 

Monaco podium finisher Louis Deletraz led Charouz Racing System’s charge in ninth, ahead of Force India development driver Nicholas Latifi, who once again was unable to match DAMS teammate Albon as he rounded out the top 10. 

Four points gained for pole means Russell, who has already two victories in 2018, has reduced the deficit to Norris to 32 points in the drivers’ standings. 

F2 France Qualifying Results 

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