Robert Shwartzman moved towards the brink of clinching the FIA Formula 3 title after scoring his first pole position in over four months during qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday.

Prema Racing's Shwartzman entered the final round of the season with a 33-point lead over teammate Jehan Daruvala in championship standings, but added to his advantage by scoring the four bonus points for taking pole in Sochi.

Shwartzman and Daruvala exchanged fastest laps throughout the session, with the Russian eventually prevailing after a final lap time of 1m52.583s to score pole by almost two-tenths of a second.

It means Shwartzman sits 37 points clear with just 44 available, requiring victory from Daruvala if the title race is to stay alive until Sunday.

The result marked Shwartzman's first pole position since the opening round of the year in Barcelona, which also stood as his most recent front-row qualifying result.

Shwartzman's fellow Ferrari junior, Marcus Armstrong, qualified third after being hindered by traffic on his final run in qualifying, with Niko Kari and Christian Lundgaard taking fourth and fifth place respectively.

Jake Hughes qualified sixth for HWA Racelab ahead of Trident's Pedro Piquet, with Hitech drivers Leonardo Pulcini and Juri Vips following in eighth and ninth. Max Fewtrell completed the top 10 for ART Grand Prix.

David Schumacher made his FIA F3 qualifying debut on Friday, finishing 25th overall, while only 29 drivers took part in the session after David Beckmann withdrew from the weekend due to a family emergency.

The opening race of the F3 weekend begins at 1015 local time on Sunday (0815 BST).

 

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