Stoffel Vandoorne took his third pole position in a row in Sochi, but the ART Grand Prix driver was made to work hard for the position, with Arthur Pic setting an identical lap time in his Campos Racing machine.
Both Vandoorne and Pic set a lap time of 1:45.402s, but with the Belgian setting the time first, he will start at the front, with the Frenchman alongside him on the front row.
Takuya Izawa was an excellent third, with the second ART Grand Prix driver putting in by far his best qualifying performance of the season. For the first time all year, he would have been on a level playing field with the rest of the field, with Sochi hosting its first race, it meant the Japanese driver was not the only one learning the track.
Current championship leader Jolyon Palmer will start from fourth for DAMS, but will be disappointed to have been baulked by a slower driver on his fastest lap that could have seen him nearer the front.
Raffaele Marciello will start fifth for Racing Engineering alongside Mitch Evans of Russian Time, while Kimiya Sato will start seventh for Campos Racing as he aims to score his first points of the season on Saturday.
Stefano Coletti was eighth fastest in the second Racing Engineering entry, while Andre Negrao of Arden International and Felipe Nasr of Carlin completed the top ten.
Unfortunately for Nasr, who is Palmer’s main championship rival, he was penalised post-session for blocking Coletti, and will start twelfth, with Sergio Canamasas moving into the top ten for Trident Racing.
Pierre Gasly would have been tenth for Caterham Racing having initially qualified eleventh ahead of Canamasas, but the five place grid penalty carried over from Monza means he will start sixteenth.
Sochi Qualifying Times
|1||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||ART Grand Prix||1:45.402|
|2||Arthur Pic||FRA||Campos Racing||1:45.402|
|3||Takuya Izawa||JAP||ART Grand Prix||1:45.675|
|5||Raffaele Marciello||ITA||Racing Engineering||1:45.772|
|6||Mitch Evans||NZL||RT Russian Time||1:45.813|
|7||Kimiya Sato||JAP||Campos Racing||1:46.102|
|8||Stefano Coletti||MON||Racing Engineering||1:46.120|
|9||Andre Negrao||BRZ||Arden International||1:46.173|
|10||Sergio Canamasas||ESP||Trident Racing||1:46.411|
|11||Nathanael Berthon||FRA||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:46.497|
|13||Daniel Abt||GER||Hilmer Motorsport||1:46.554|
|14||Rio Haryanto||INO||Caterham Racing||1:46.560|
|15||Marco Sorensen||DEN||MP Motorsport||1:46.628|
|16**||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Caterham Racing||1:46.377|
|17||Jon Lancaster||GBR||Hilmer Motorsport||1:46.651|
|18||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Trident Racing||1:46.788|
|22||Rene Binder||AUT||Arden International||1:47.091|
|23||Artem Markelov||RUS||RT Russian Time||1:47.386|
|25||Daniel de Jong||NED||MP Motorsport||1:47.611|
|26||Sergio Campana||ITA||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1:47.795|
|* Two place penalty for blocking *|
|** Five place penalty for avoidable collision in Italy **|