Red Bull Formula 1 junior Juri Vips delivered a first pole of the season for Hitech Grand Prix in one of the most exciting sessions of the Formula 3 season so far at Silverstone.
With 30 cars sparring for track position, the later the driver left it the more improvement was found and by the end, with the top 28 within 1.6 seconds of pole position.
Vips had topped the session on multiple occasions but the Austria race one winner - who started the season lamenting the qualifying form which has steadily improved - was the last frontrunner across the line to set a 1m43.902s.
Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong - who had no DRS in practice - rebounded from being taken out by his team-mate while leading the last race in Austria, joining Vips on the front row of the grid for Saturday's race.
Armstrong was less than a tenth adrift, the only other driver to break the 1m44s threshold. He had run off the track one-lap earlier joining the Wellington Straight and was lucky not to damage his car.
His Prema team had appeared to struggle in qualifying but its drivers - who won the first four races of the season - did not put on a fresh set of tyres which clouded their true pace.
Jehan Daruvala joined team-mate Armstrong in the top three, as one of a flurry of late improvers.
Christian Lundgaard - hamstrung in Austria after he and team-mate David Beckmann were disqualified from qualifying as their physios were deemed to be working on their cars in the pits by holding fans to a radiator duct - took fifth.
The Danish ART Grand Prix driver narrowly headed Vips' team-mate Leo Pulcini who rounded out the top five in what appears to be a rekindling of his rapid GP3 Series form from last year.
Robert Shwartzman took sixth and was the last of the Prema drivers. He had been second with just seconds on the clock remaining, but was shuffled back by a host of late arrivals.
In seventh, the youngest driver on the grid - Red Bull-backed Liam Lawson - made use of the alternate strategy running in the middle of the session for his best qualifying of the season so far with MP Motorsport.
Pedro Piquet took eighth for Trident, which had topped the session with less than a minute to go until Niko Kari was shuffled all the way back to 12th.
Fabio Scherer was another shuffled back late on but is enjoying his best weekend yet with the Sauber Junior Team in ninth, while Yifei Ye took 10th but faces a five-place grid drop from the last round.
That will promote HWA's Jake Hughes, winner of race two in Austria, into the top 10.
The only new driver for this round, Jenzer's Federico Malvestiti, qualified 29th, 2.2 seconds slower than Vips.
|1||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||1m43.902s||-|
|2||Marcus Armstrong||Prema Racing||1m43.998s||0.096s|
|3||Jehan Daruvala||Prema Racing||1m44.014s||0.112s|
|4||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||1m44.073s||0.171s|
|5||Leonardo Pulcini||Hitech GP||1m44.139s||0.237s|
|6||Robert Shwartzman||Prema Racing||1m44.218s||0.316s|
|7||Liam Lawson||MP Motorsport||1m44.360s||0.458s|
|10||Yifei Ye||Hitech GP||1m44.461s||0.559s|
|13||David Beckmann||ART Grand Prix||1m44.581s||0.679s|
|14||Max Fewtrell||ART Grand Prix||1m44.584s||0.682s|
|18||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||1m44.967s||1.065s|
|19||Sebastian Fernandez||Campos Racing||1m44.984s||1.082s|
|21||Alex Peroni||Campos Racing||1m45.088s||1.186s|
|24||Simo Laaksonen||MP Motorsport||1m45.142s||1.240s|
|26||Yuki Tsunoda||Jenzer Motorsport||1m45.301s||1.399s|
|27||Andreas Estner||Jenzer Motorsport||1m45.435s||1.533s|
|29||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer Motorsport||1m46.103s||2.201s|
|30||Alessio Deledda||Campos Racing||1m47.068s||3.166s|