16-year-old Mitch Evans took pole position on only his second European race weekend in GP3 qualifying at Barcelona, beating Andrea Caldarelli by just one thousandth of a second.
Tech 1 driver Caldarelli led the session early on with a time that his rivals struggled to match. Practice pacesetter Valtteri Bottas briefly took top spot for ART before Marlon Stockinger went quickest for Atech CRS. Caldarelli's name quickly returned to the top of the timing screens though.
The Italian remained there until the closing stages when New Zealander Evans put together a lap good enough to take pole position for his MW Arden team, just 0.001 seconds quicker than Caldarelli.
“I think the race is going to be really close so we will give it our best shot and see what the outcome is,” said Evans in the post-qualifying press conference.
“On the first set of tyres, the car actually felt not too bad and I ended up in a pretty good position and I was feeling pretty good about it. We then made a slight adjustment between sets and improved a little bit a put a pretty good lap together.
“It's massive for team, because it's their first pole position in GP3 which is really special for everyone so I'm really pleased to be the one to do it.
“We have to get a clean start, my start in Turkey wasn't too bad, but there was still an improvement to be made so we will work on that and try and improve the car a little bit of course. We will do our best.”
Caldarelli was pleased with second despite being knocked off pole by such a small margin.
“Even if it was a really small gap I think we still had a lot more potential,” said Caldarelli. “Unfortunately I lost time in the final sector when I locked the wheel, so I think we should've been much better. But anyway we did a good job with the team, and we were really motivated.”
Caldarelli's second place matched his qualifying result from Istanbul. “I think it was a bit difficult in the pre-season tests because it was a new car, but step-by-step thanks to the team we really found a good feeling with the car, and developed a lot so this has now paid us back.”
Stockinger held onto third place, the Filipino scoring both his and his team's best qualifying result in GP3.
“The team is really ecstatic with the result,” he said afterwards. “We knew we could always do it, but it was just a case of putting a lap together.”
Aaro Vainio (Tech 1) and James Calado (ART) made it five GP3 rookies in the top five places by ending fourth and fifth respectively. Points leader Nigel Melker was sixth for Mucke, just ahead of Jenzer's Nico Muller. Tamas Pal Kiss, Dean Smith and Bottas rounded out the top ten.
Qualifying session results:
|1||Mitch Evans||MW Arden||1:38.498|
|2||Andrea Caldarelli||Tech 1 Racing||1:38.499||0.001|
|3||Marlon Stockinger||Atech CRS Grand Prix||1:38.739||0.241|
|4||Aaro Vainio||Tech 1 Racing||1:38.778||0.280|
|5||James Calado||Lotus ART||1:38.825||0.327|
|6||Nigel Melker||RSC MÃ¼cke Motorsport||1:38.826||0.328|
|7||Nico MÃ¼ller||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.914||0.416|
|8||TamÃ¡s PÃ¡l Kiss||Tech 1 Racing||1:38.991||0.493|
|9||Dean Smith||Addax Team||1:39.052||0.554|
|10||Valtteri Bottas||Lotus ART||1:39.074||0.576|
|11||Nick Yelloly||Atech CRS Grand Prix||1:39.091||0.593|
|12||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||Marussia Manor Racing||1:39.106||0.608|
|13||Vittorio Ghirelli||Jenzer Motorsport||1:39.132||0.634|
|14||Maxim Zimin||Jenzer Motorsport||1:39.132||0.634|
|15||Dominic Storey||Addax Team||1:39.165||0.667|
|16||Alexander Sims||Status Grand Prix||1:39.183||0.685|
|17||Antonio Felix da Costa||Status Grand Prix||1:39.225||0.727|
|18||Pedro Nunes||Lotus ART||1:39.229||0.731|
|19||Gabby Chaves||Addax Team||1:39.231||0.733|
|20||Lewis Williamson||MW Arden||1:39.251||0.743|
|21||Matias Laine||Marussia Manor Racing||1:39.273||0.775|
|22||Ivan Lukashevich||Status Grand Prix||1:39.277||0.779|
|23||Rio Haryanto||Marussia Manor Racing||1:39.334||0.836|
|24||ZoÃ«l Amberg||Atech CRS Grand Prix||1:39.382||0.884|
|28||Simon Trummer||MW Arden||1:39.713||1.215|
|29||Luciano Bacheta||RSC MÃ¼cke Motorsport||1:40.301||1.803|
|30||Michael Christensen||RSC MÃ¼cke Motorsport||1:49.478||10.980|