McLaren-Honda Formula 1 protege Lando Norris grabbed pole position for the first race of the Formula 3 European Championship season after an epic three-way fight in qualifying at Silverstone.

Norris, the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner, traded fastest times in his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen with the two Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes machines of Callum Ilott and Maximilian Gunther, finally wresting the top position from fellow Brit Ilott by just 0.006 seconds.

F3 rookie Norris, winner of last year's Formula Renault Eurocup, was unhappy with the set-up of his car in free practice but said improvements to the set-up made the difference.

"I was just getting into the rhythm in free practice and we didn't have the best balance to be honest - we had to make some big improvements," said the 17-year-old.

"In qualifying I got three or four clear laps, which I think was important - I got some good laps although there were a couple of mistakes.

"I'd done a 50.3 and made a fairly big mistake, and when I heard that Ilott was a tenth and a half faster I was beginning to struggle with the tyres, mainly in slow-speed corners, so I had to push and take a few more risks in the high-speed corners."

Ilott, who was spectacular in the high-speed turns in free practice, in which he topped both sessions, said he was being a little bit conservative with the change in wind direction in qualifying.

"If I'd put it all together it might have happened - an earlier shift or something," he said.

"But it [the conditions] was different to free practice - everything came on a bit quicker and it caught me out a bit."

Gunther, in turn just 0.085s off pole, was happy with his third spot on the grid.

Reigning rookie champion Joel Eriksson kicked his season off well by taking fourth fastest in his Motopark car, this despite the Swede never having driven at Silverstone until free practice this morning.

He headed off late-improving Jehan Daruvala, the Force India junior doing a sound job in his Carlin machine to take fifth on the grid.

Ferrari Driver Academy prospect Guan Yu Zhou took sixth spot in his Prema car, while Nikita Mazepin showed strongly to head the Hitech Grand Prix squadron in seventh.

Jake Dennis was eighth fastest, with the top 10 completed by reigning German Formula 4 champion Joey Mawson and Tadasuke Makino.

Jake Hughes narrowly missed out on a top-10 position, just beating Mick Schumacher, who will make his F3 debut from 12th on the grid.

7:06 pm
April 2017