Standings leader Abbi Pulling picked up where she left off in Practice to seal her third and fourth consecutive F1 ACADEMY pole positions.

The Alpine driver had to fight hard to keep hold of them in a close-fought Qualifying session. Chloe Chambers came close to the top spot on both occasions, missing out by just 0.059s and 0.076s, but the Haas driver did seal her first front row starts ahead of home hero Nerea Martí for Race 1 and Mercedes’ Doriane Pin for Race 2.

In contrast to the morning’s quieter start, the grid wasn’t waiting around. Kick Sauber’s Carrie Schreiner set the initial benchmark on a 1:43.361. Pulling then staked an early claim on pole with a 1:42.540, as Bianca Bustamante kept close, only a tenth adrift in second.

Times continued to tumble as Hamda Al Qubaisi, Chambers and Pin all exchanged personal best efforts, with the Frenchwoman remaining the driver to beat on a 1:41.988. Despite the degradation, Chambers kept a bit of life in her tyres, posting a 1:41.926 to eclipse Pin by six hundredths.

The track quietened down at the 16-minute mark, as the drivers returned to the pit lane to bolt on their second sets.

Chambers secured her best Qualifying results so far with P2 for both races
Chambers secured her best Qualifying results so far with P2 for both races

There was no time to waste as Bustamante threw down the gauntlet, going from P7 to fastest by 0.005s. Pulling then broke three tenths clear on a 1:41.529 and as the track cooled, improvements were there to be found.

A rapid final sector for Marti promoted her to provisional pole, before her Campos Racing teammate Chambers hit the front. However, nothing was going to stop Pulling as she nudged ahead of Chambers with a 1:41.396.

Martí kept her hopes of home glory alive in third, a tenth off pole. The Tommy Hilfiger driver will have Pin for company on the second row for Race 1 ahead of Bustamante. Hausmann secured her best Qualifying yet in sixth ahead of Hamda Al Qubaisi and Williams’ Lia Block, with Rodin Motorsport’s Jessica Edgar ninth and Lola Lovinfosse in 10th.

Behind an identical front row, Pin and Martí have switched grid positions for Race 2. Hamda Al Qubaisi will line up in fifth, with Block, Hausmann, Bustamante, Edgar and Lovinfosse completing the top 10 for Sunday morning’s race.

Pulling has a chance to strengthen her hold on the Drivers’ Standings when she gets Race 1 underway from pole. Lights go out in Barcelona at 18:00 local time on Saturday.