Jules Bianchi will start from pole for tomorrow's GP2 Series season-opener in Barcelona after a strong performance in this afternoon's qualifying session.
The ART Grand Prix driver secured the top spot with a best lap of 1m27.727s, putting him a comfortable 0.284s clear of the nearest challenger, Barwa Addax's Sergio Perez.
Bianchi's effort was made to look all the more impressive by how competitive things were immediately behind him, with 11 cars covered by one second, and it came despite the Frenchman not actually finishing the session after he spun and stalled at the chicance with two minutes remaining.
Bianchi's team-mate Sam Bird will start from third alongside Racing Engineering's Christian Vietoris for an all-rookie second row, and the third row was also locked out by first-timers in the shape of Oliver Turvey (iSport) and Charles Pic (Arden), with Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) lining up behind them.
While the first-timers were shining, the weekend has started on a different note for some of the series' more experienced hands. Pastor Maldonado (Rapax) managed no better than ninth, with current Asia Series champion Davide Valsecchi (iSport) immediately behind him, while Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax) ended up 13th, Jerome D'Ambrosio (DAMS) 16th and last year's Silverstone feature race winner Alberto Valerio (Coloni) 17th.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Jules Bianchi ART 1m27.727s
2. Sergio Perez Addax 1m28.011s + 0.284s
3. Sam Bird ART 1m28.241s + 0.514s
4. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1m28.254s + 0.527s
5. Oliver Turvey iSport 1m28.298s + 0.571s
6. Charles Pic Arden 1m28.300s + 0.573s
7. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1m28.372s + 0.645s
8. Marcus Ericsson Super Nova 1m28.376s + 0.649s
9. Pastor Maldonado Rapax 1m28.670s + 0.943s
10. Davide Valsecchi iSport 1m28.714s + 0.987s
11. Fabio Leimer Ocean 1m28.723s + 0.996s
12. Giacomo Ricci DPR 1m28.969s + 1.242s
13. Giedo van der Garde Addax 1m29.000s + 1.273s
14. Luiz Razia Rapax 1m29.065s + 1.338s
15. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1m29.129s + 1.402s
16. Jerome D'Ambrosio DAMS 1m29.238s + 1.511s
17. Alberto Valerio Coloni 1m29.271s + 1.544s
18. Josef Kral Super Nova 1m29.382s + 1.655s
19. Max Chilton Ocean 1m29.437s + 1.71 s
20. Michael Herck DPR 1m29.500s + 1.773s
21. Adrian Zaugg Trident 1m29.518s + 1.791s
22. Ho-Pin Tung DAMS 1m29.519s + 1.792s
23. Vladimir Arabadzhiev Coloni 1m29.912s + 2.185s
24. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden 1m30.209s + 2.482s