Nyck de Vries took the fourth pole position of his Formula 2 career in Austria, while Renault Formula 1 junior Anthoine Hubert used a clever strategy to land second.
The first flying lap on the supersoft tyre proved crucial, with few drivers struggling to improve on their second attempts.
Hubert - winner of the last two sprint races - had yet to qualify inside the top seven this season, admitting qualifying was a weakness for the Arden squad during the reigning GP3 Series champion's rookie year.
But he chose to take his second set of supersofts early and before the rest of the field came out with around nine minutes to go.
Hubert delivered his best lap of the season on an empty track and, after pitting, he was able to watch the others fail to oust him from the Arden pitwall.
De Vries took pole by improving on a time that was provisionally good enough for pole, his final best effort 0.166s clear of Hubert.
On the last run, Hubert's fellow Renault junior Guan Yu Zhou jumped from fifth to third, strengthening his bid to remain the highest rookie in the points' standings in fifth.
Carlin's Nobuharu Matsushita earned fourth for Carlin late on and Zhou's Virtuosi Racing team-mate Luca Ghiotto rounded out the top five.
DAMS had a tricky session, with title contender and Williams junior Nicholas Latifi in sixth and 0.340s adrift of the pace.
Latifi narrowly beat a late-charging Mick Schumacher, the Prema Racing driver and Ferrari junior leaping from well outside of the top 10 on his last effort, in a bid to end his six-race pointless spell.
Louis Deletraz topped practice but had to settle for eighth in qualifying, while the second DAMS of McLaren junior Sergio Sette Camara took ninth.
Callum Ilott pulled a wheelie at the last corner after clipping one of the sausage bumps on his first flying effort but managed to take a top 10 spot with his last flying effort for the Sauber Junior Team.
Title contender Jack Aitken had a nightmare session, only managing 14th on the grid for Campos Racing.
Red Bull junior Patricio Ward was the best of the season debutants with 17th, ending up two tenths off his team-mate Jordan King in his first F2 weekend.
Arjun Maini took 18th on his F2 return alongside Aitken at Campos, while Trident's F2 rookie Ryan Tveter was the penultimate pacesetter and 1.2s off de Vries's best time.
|1||Nyck de Vries||ART Grand Prix||1m14.143s|
|2||Anthoine Hubert||BWT Arden||0.166s|
|7||Mick Schumacher||Prema Racing||0.345s|
|9||Sergio Sette Camara||DAMS||0.566s|
|10||Callum Ilott||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||0.612s|
|11||Sean Gelael||Prema Racing||0.665s|
|12||Nikita Mazepin||ART Grand Prix||0.739s|
|13||Juan Manuel Correa||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||0.744s|
|14||Jack Aitken||Campos Racing||0.843s|
|15||Jordan King||MP Motorsport||0.996s|
|17||Patricio O'Ward||MP Motorsport||1.184s|
|18||Arjun Maini||Campos Racing||1.220s|
|20||Tatiana Calderon||BWT Arden||2.021s|