Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Carlos Sainz Jr robbed Fortec Motorsports of a front row lockout for race one at the Nurburgring in the closing seconds of qualifying.
The session, which was delayed due to fog at the German venue, started an hour late and was shortened to 25 minutes.
Fortec duo Sergey Sirotkin and Oliver Rowland seemed in control throughout, leading the way after the first runs and asserting themselves at the top again as the times tumbled in the last couple of minutes - this time with the Briton ahead.
But DAMS driver Sainz, who had not sat on top of the order once during the session, moved to the head of the field with less than 10 seconds remaining.
By that time both Rowland and Sirotkin were touring back to the pits. The Russian also spun in front of the Briton in the closing stages.
Free practice pacesetter Roberto Merhi ultimately joined them in setting a time within one tenth of Sainz's best.
Behind the top four, Marlon Stockinger and Matias Laine made up the third row, while Oscar Tunjo and Pietro Fantin - who both had a brief spell at the top having been two of the first drivers to take a second set of tyres, completed the top eight.
In a session where track conditions were constantly improving as the fog lifted, the main driver to suffer was Sainz's fellow Red Bull junior and closest title challenger Pierre Gasly, who ended the session 17th.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 1m40.820s 2. Oliver Rowland Fortec 1m40.845s +0.025s 3. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec 1m40.862s +0.042s 4. Roberto Merhi Zeta 1m40.902s +0.082s 5. Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1m40.921s +0.101s 6. Matias Laine Strakka 1m41.033s +0.213s 7. Oscar Tunjo Pons 1m41.142s +0.322s 8. Pietro Fantin Draco 1m41.254s +0.434s 9. Luca Ghiotto Draco 1m41.366s +0.546s 10. Zoel Amberg AVF 1m41.367s +0.547s 11. Beitske Visser AVF 1m41.367s +0.547s 12. Will Stevens Strakka 1m41.448s +0.628s 13. Will Buller Arden 1m41.469s +0.649s 14. Marco Sorensen Tech 1 1m41.531s +0.711s 15. Norman Nato DAMS 1m41.573s +0.753s 16. Meindert van Buuren Pons 1m41.628s +0.808s 17. Pierre Gasly Arden 1m41.676s +0.856s 18. Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 1m41.788s +0.968s 19. Roman Mavlanov Zeta 1m41.864s +1.044s 20. Jazeman Jaafar ISR 1m42.308s +1.488s 21. Alfonso Celis Tech 1 1m42.676s +1.856s 22. Cameron Twynham Comtec 1m42.815s +1.995s