Moscow FR3.5: McLaren junior Vandoorne takes pole in Russia

McLaren junior racer Stoffel Vandoorne took his second Formula Renault 3.5 pole position of the season with an assured performance in qualifying for Saturday's Moscow race

Moscow FR3.5: McLaren junior Vandoorne takes pole in Russia

The 2013 double victor opted to avoid any traffic issues by circulating on his own while rival competitors took their mid-session change of tyres.

Vandoorne was rewarded by moving to the head of the classification with a time of 1m21.208s, but the action would intensify, and lap times lower, in the session's final 15 minutes.

Friday afternoon pacesetter Antonio Felix da Costa found a tenth of a second to demote Vandoorne from provisional pole with six minutes left on the clocks, before debutant Will Buller caused the major upset of the weekend.

The European Formula 3 graduate, acclimatising to his first meeting with 2013 newcomer Zeta Corse, achieved an astounding breakthrough in performance to jump from 15th to first.

Vandoorne swiftly reasserted his authority by moving back to the head of the pack.

The reigning Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion subsequently improved on his time to record the eventual pole lap of 1m20.283s, and briefly enjoy a half-second margin over second-placed Nigel Melker.

Da Costa found significant gains on his last lap to move within 0.036s of Vandoorne, and will join his title rival on the front row for Saturday afternoon's race.

Championship leader Kevin Magnussen survived an early off-track excursion at Turn 3 to squeeze into third, 0.001s ahead of one of the stars of Spa-Francorchamps' second race in Melker.

NEWS UPDATE: Magnussen given qualifying penalty

Buller was bumped down to, a still highly respectable, fifth. Fellow Briton Oliver Webb, who demonstrated strong form on old tyres during Friday's tests, will start from sixth place.

A number of drivers tested the limits of the track and adhesion. Former champion Mikhail Aleshin and ISR racer Christopher Zanella were among those to have minor off-track moments at the final corner.

Pos  Driver                  Team            Time       Gap
 1.  Stoffel Vandoorne       Fortec          1m20.283s
 2.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Arden Caterham  1m20.319s  +0.036s
 3.  Kevin Magnussen         DAMS            1m20.738s  +0.455s
 4.  Nigel Melker            Tech 1          1m20.739s  +0.456s
 5.  Will Buller             Zeta            1m20.764s  +0.481s
 6.  Oliver Webb             Fortec          1m20.803s  +0.520s
 7.  Marlon Stockinger       Lotus           1m20.868s  +0.585s
 8.  Will Stevens            P1/Strakka      1m20.872s  +0.589s
 9.  Nico Muller             Draco           1m20.927s  +0.644s
10.  Andre Negrao            Draco           1m20.933s  +0.650s
11.  Marco Sorensen          Lotus           1m20.957s  +0.674s
12.  Arthur Pic              AV              1m20.967s  +0.684s
13.  Sergey Sirotkin         ISR             1m21.057s  +0.774s
14.  Matias Laine            P1/Strakka      1m21.076s  +0.793s
15.  Norman Nato             DAMS            1m21.123s  +0.840s
16.  Carlos Huertas          Carlin          1m21.134s  +0.851s
17.  Christopher Zanella     ISR             1m21.173s  +0.890s
18.  Mikhail Aleshin         Tech 1          1m21.401s  +1.118s
19.  Jazeman Jaafar          Carlin          1m21.415s  +1.132s
20.  Nikolay Martsenko       Pons            1m21.417s  +1.134s
21.  Pietro Fantin           Arden Caterham  1m21.476s  +1.193s
22.  Lucas Foresti           SMP/Comtec      1m21.507s  +1.224s
23.  Daniil Move             SMP/Comtec      1m21.540s  +1.257s
24.  Yann Cunha              AV              1m21.884s  +1.601s
25.  Zoel Amberg             Pons            1m22.168s  +1.885s
26.  Mihai Marinescu         Zeta            1m22.366s  +2.083s
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