Ferrari Formula 1 junior Marcus Armstrong took his first FIA Formula 3 pole position for Prema Racing in a dramatic and frenetic qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.
Armstrong looked the class of the field early on, establishing a lap strong enough for pole before the drivers headed out for final efforts late in the session.
But a two-lap showdown was set-up when Logan Sargeant crashed his Carlin-prepared car into the barrier at the final turn with just over four minutes to go, after a wheelie had left him unable to steer and he crashed heavily into the wall, apparently unhurt.
Just before the stoppage, the Hitech drivers Juri Vips and Leo Pulcini had hauled themselves into third and fourth respectively.
The Red Bull-supported Vips had been 22nd and Pulcini 16th, but both improved just before the red flag and were the only drivers who had time to do so before the incident.
Vips then improved further after the session went green to take second, but was leapfrogged at the death by ART Grand Prix driver Max Fewtrell's final lap of the session.
The reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion set a brilliant final effort, 0.123s behind Armstrong for his best qualifying result of the season so far.
Vips secured third, ahead of the second Prema-run machine of Jehan Daruvala.
The third Prema car of points-leader Robert Shwartzman had been fourth, four tenths off pole, when he pulled off the track on the run to Turn 4 early in the session and took no further part as he was wheeled behind the barrier.
The SMP and Ferrari-backed Russian will start the race 12th, by far his lowest qualifying effort of the year - having not qualified lower than third or finished lower than fourth so far this season.
Behind Daruvala in fourth, Fewtrell's team-mate and fellow Renault junior Christian Lundgaard moved up to fifth late on, ahead of Paul Ricard polesitter Jake Hughes. The HWA driver was knocked down from fourth where his late lap had initially put him.
Pulcini had to settle for seventh with his last effort, while Trident Racing's Pedro Piquet moved up the order late on to secure eighth.
David Beckmann made sure all the ART drivers finished inside the top 10 by taking ninth.
Sebastian Fernandez should have secured his best qualifying result of the season in 10th for Campos Racing, but driving through a pitlane red light in practice docked him three places on the grid.
The penalty means reigning German Formula 4 champion Lirim Zendelli is promoted into the top 10 on the grid. Just one second covered the top 25 in the session, the closest the field has been in its three rounds so far - and only 0.4s separated the top 10.
Series debutant Giorgio Carrara was the best of the Jenzer drivers, qualifying 22nd on his season debut.
His Red Bull-backed team-mate Yuki Tsunoda - who drove from 27th to seventh in the Paul Ricard feature race - was 27th in qualifying again.
|1||Marcus Armstrong||Prema Racing||1m19.716s|
|2||Max Fewtrell||ART Grand Prix||0.123s|
|3||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||0.180s|
|4||Jehan Daruvala||Prema Racing||0.218s|
|6||Leonardo Pulcini||Hitech GP||0.472s|
|8||Sebastian Fernandez||Campos Racing||0.488s|
|10||Robert Shwartzman||Prema Racing||0.561s|
|12||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||0.592s|
|14||Alex Peroni||Campos Racing||0.612s|
|15||Liam Lawson||MP Motorsport||0.670s|
|17||Simo Laaksonen||MP Motorsport||0.711s|
|20||Giorgio Carrara||Jenzer Motorsport||0.876s|
|21||Yifei Ye||Hitech GP||0.946s|
|25||Yuki Tsunoda||Jenzer Motorsport||1.243s|
|27||Andreas Estner||Jenzer Motorsport||1.942s|
|28||Alessio Deledda||Campos Racing||2.219s|
|-||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||-|
|-||David Beckmann||ART Grand Prix||-|