Charles Leclerc will start the first race of Formula 2's latest era from pole position after finishing almost seven-tenths of a second clear of the field on Friday in Bahrain.

Leclerc moved up to F2 for 2017 after winning last year's GP3 title, enjoying support from Ferrari as a member of its driver academy.

Racing for the defending champion team, Prema Racing, Leclerc made an immediate impression under the lights in Bahrain on Friday by storming to the first pole position of F2's new era.

Leclerc set the pace in the early runs ahead of Prema team-mate Antonio Fuoco before opting to head out during a mid-session lull, completing his final run with several minutes remaining to improve by six-tenths of a second, posting a lap of 1:38.907.

With the clock ticking down in the final minutes of the session, the majority of the field headed back out to complete a late run, only for the session to be put under the Virtual Safety Car.

Coming towards Turn 9, Nabil Jeffri inexplicably tried to dive down the inside of Gustav Malja, causing the two to make contact. With both cars damaged and stricken on the circuit, the VSC meant no late runs could be completed, handing Leclerc pole.

Fuoco held on to second place to complete a Prema one-two, with McLaren junior Nyck de Vries being one of the few late improvers, rising to third place.

Norman Nato will start Saturday's feature race from fourth place on the grid ahead of Luca Ghiotto and Nobuharu Matsushita. Artem Markelov qualified seventh, while a lock-up on his final lap meant Oliver Rowland could only finish eighth for DAMS. Alexander Albon and Sergio Sette Camara rounded out the top 10 in qualifying.


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