Grosjean beats Andretti teammate Herta to pole at St. Petersburg

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Round 1, Group 1

A 1:01.5 from Christian Lundgaard was the first competitive time in the opening group as most ran on the primary compound in the opening minutes.

Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport logged a 1:00.5 to leap to the time by a comfortable margin, followed by O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Armstrong, Pagenaud and McLaughlin with five minutes left.

Santino Ferrucci was handed a drive-through penalty after his teams released him too early at the start of qualifying. He would ultimately run in the gap but could only go P7.

Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist was the first driver to break the 60 second barrier as the Swede posted a 59.9, almost 0.2s quicker than teammate Pato O’Ward and Scott McLaughlin. Armstrong, Castroneves and Lundgaard rounded out the top 6 with seconds left.

A red flag was thrown with 12 seconds left as Simon Pagenaud locked up and gently clipped the tyre bundle heading into turn 4.

All drivers apart from Pagenaud were allowed to do one more lap at the end and multiple drivers improved on new alternates.

Lundgaard and Kirkwood moved up into P2 and P3 behind Rosenqvist as they both posted a 1:00.0. O’Ward and McLaughlin dropped to P4 and P5 got through, as Marcus Ericsson got in right at the end.

Armstrong, Castroneves, Ferrucci, Harvey, Canapino, Robb and Pagenaud failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 2

It was a mix of alternates and primary tyres in the second group for the first runs.

A 1:00.333 from DeFrancesco put him ahead of Grosjean (+0.045), Ilott (+0.053), Malukas, Palou and Dixon with five minutes remaining.

Newgarden, Rossi and Power found themselves in P8, P9 and P13 respectively before the last runs started.

The times tumbled in the second group as Scott Dixon set the fastest time on a 59.8213, fractions ahead of Herta, Grosjean and Palou. Alexander Rossi on his Arrow McLaren debut and Will Power also made it through to the fast 12.

Two-time champion Josef Newgarden was the biggest name to be knocked out in the first segment of qualifying after missing out by 0.039s.

He was joined by Malukas, DeFrancesco, Ilott, Rahal, VeeKay, Daly and Pedersen in getting bumped out.

Fast 12

2021 champion Alex Palou put in a 1:01.0 to kick things off in the second part of qualifying.

Kirkwood and Lundgaard both had excursions at turn 4 as they went down the run off area.

A 1:00.0 from Alexander Rossi saw him top of the charts with five minutes to go, followed by McLaughlin, Herta, O’Ward, Dixon and Palou.

Dixon and Power improved before the final runs as they vaulted up to P3 and P4 respectively.

Rosenqvist was the first driver to dip below 60s in this segment as he pumped in a rapid 59.797. Kyle Kirkwood usurped that instantly on a 59.635.

Kirkwood’s teammate Colton Herta pumped in a stunning 59.544 to end the session fastest. It was a 1-2-3 for Andretti Autosport as Grosjean made it safely through.

O’Ward, Ericsson and McLaughlin also made it through. The Kiwi got through with the very last lap of the fast 12 to knock out Alex Palou.

Palou, Rosenqvist, Dixon, Power, Lundgaard and Rossi dropped out. They will start from P7 down to P12 tomorrow.

Fast 6

With just twenty seconds gone in the battle for pole, a red flag was thrown as Kyle Kirkwood crashed his Andretti.

The young American locked up into turn 13 and could not avoid the wall. The left front suspension was broken and his session was done instantly.

A second red flag was required as Scott McLaughlin spun at turn 13. The New Zealander clipped the wall on the exit at turn 10.

As he tried to make the timing line with a broken toe link on the right rear, he spun out after passing the line.

A stonking 59.5532 from Romain Grosjean saw the French driver take pole position by over 0.4s from stablemate Colton Herta.

O’Ward and Ericsson finished up P3 and P4, with McLaughlin and Kirkwood failing to set a time after crashing. Kirkwood starts P5 as he went faster in Q2.

Photo: Penske Entertainment | James Black