Fabio Leimer converted his superb post-season testing pace into his first GP2 pole position in qualifying for the non-championship Final in Abu Dhabi.
Josef Kral led the way for much of the session, with Leimer and Dani Clos his nearest challengers. Racing Engineering driver Leimer bounced back from a spin ten minutes into the session to take pole away from Kral with five minutes remaining.
Clos, who swapped seats with Leimer for this race by moving to Rapax, then pipped Kral for second place, demoting the Czech Arden driver down to third. At that moment, Esteban Gutierrez came to a stop on the track bringing out the red flags. The session restarted with three and a half minutes remaining, but nobody could beat Leimer.
“I would like to thank the team because they gave me a really great car,” he said. “I've immediately felt at ease with it since the first day of testing back in Europe. It suits my driving style really well and today I took my first GP2 pole. It's fantastic.”
Luiz Razia ended up in fourth place for Caterham Team AirAsia, ahead of Jolyon Palmer, who picked up by far his best GP2 qualifying result to date after switching to Addax for this race. He will share the third row of the grid with fellow Briton Max Chilton.
Auto GP champion Kevin Ceccon will line up seventh, just ahead of Gutierrez. Tom Dillmann was again the best GP2 debutant in ninth, just like he was in free practice. Stefano Coletti completed the top ten, with an identical time to the Frenchman.
Giacomo Ricci qualified 11th on his GP2 return, but will take a ten place grid drop after ignoring yellow flags in practice. GP3 runner-up James Calado was the second best newcomer in 12th for ART, just ahead of fellow graduate Nigel Melker (DAMS).
Marcus Ericsson, one of the event favourites, languished down in 14th just ahead of debutants Alexander Rossi and Antonio Felix da Costa. Leimer's teammate Nathanael Berthon was 17th, ahead of Jake Rosenzweig, Julian Leal and Rio Haryanto.
Stephane Richelmi, Simon Trummer and Fabio Onidi were next up, with Jan Charouz, Mihai Marinescu and Nicolas Marroc bringing up the rear.
|1||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||11||1:49.363|
|3||Josef Kral||Arden International||11||1:49.612||0.249|
|4||Luiz Razia||Caterham Team AirAsia||10||1:49.649||0.286|
|5||Jolyon Palmer||Barwa Addax Team||12||1:49.697||0.334|
|7||Kevin Ceccon||Scuderia Coloni||12||1:49.751||0.388|
|8||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||9||1:49.822||0.459|
|9||Tom Dillmann||iSport International||11||1:50.070||0.707|
|10||Stefano Coletti||Scuderia Coloni||10||1:50.070||0.707|
|11||James Calado||Lotus ART||11||1:50.074||0.711|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||11||1:50.230||0.867|
|14||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Team AirAsia||11||1:50.236||0.873|
|15||Antonio Felix Da Costa||Ocean Racing Technology||12||1:50.276||0.913|
|16||Nathanael Berthon||Racing Engineering||11||1:50.296||0.933|
|17||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team||12||1:50.374||1.011|
|18||Julian Leal||Trident Racing||14||1:50.374||1.011|
|20||Stephane Richelmi||Trident Racing||12||1:50.600||1.237|
|21||Giacomo Ricci||Super Nova Racing||12||1:50.074||0.711|
|22||Simon Trummer||Arden International||11||1:50.752||1.389|
|23||Fabio Onidi||Super Nova Racing||13||1:51.052||1.689|
|26||Nicolas Marroc||Ocean Racing Technology||10||1:52.550||3.187|