Aaro Vainio - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service

Aaro Vainio - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service

Young Finnish ace Aaro Vainio claimed his maiden GP3 Series pole position in qualifying in Monaco early on Friday morning.

The session was split into two groups, and in the first group it was Kevin Ceccon – the only driver in the field to have raced around the circuit before – who topped the times. The Ocean Racing Technology driver posted a best lap of 1m28.922 to guarantee himself a spot on the front row.

Points leader Mitch Evans had been seven tenths clear of the field in practice on Thursday evening, but was 0.186 seconds slower than Ceccon to end up on the second row.

Marlon Stockinger claimed third spot in the first mini-session, ahead of Conor Daly and Will Buller, with Alice Powell edging out Alex Brundle for a place on the sixth row of the grid.

Matias Laine failed to set a competitive laptime after finding the barrier at Rascasse, while Fabiano Machado overcooked it at the Nouvelle chicane right at the end of the session, bringing out the yellow flags and preventing anyone from improving their times.

The improving track conditions meant that pole always looked set to come from group two, and that was confirmed when Vainio topped the second mini-session with six minutes remaining and improving upon Ceccon's benchmark by posting a 1m28.650.

Vainio, who won the 2008 Monaco Kart Cup in the Principality, later improved to a 1m28.008 to secure pole position. Tamas Pal Kiss did well to finish up second and just over a tenth behind Vainio to claim third on the grid behind Vainio and Ceccon.

David Fumanelli will start one place behind MW Arden teammate Evans in fifth, ahead of Stockinger, Daniel Abt and Daly.

Antonio Felix Da Costa had been one of the favourites for pole after going second fastest in practice, but the Portuguese driver could only manage fifth in the second session, 0.659s shy of Vainio. That leaves him ninth on the grid, while Tio Ellinas will start tenth as Buller has a five place grid penalty for a collision in the second Barcelona race.

The first ever GP3 race in Monte Carlo takes place at 11:30 BST.