ART’s Stoffel Vandoorne has claimed an excellent pole position ahead of his home race, narrowly beating championship leader Jolyon Palmer by under two-hundredths of a second.
Palmer took an early lead in the session before the grid took to the pits halfway through the session.
Johnny Cecotto Jr. Julian Leal and Stephane Richelmi were all in the top five during the break, while MP Motorsport’s Daniel De Jong set out on his usual timed laps whilst everyone else was in the pits.
The past few times De Jong has attempted to set a time with a free track haven’t gone to plan, as he succumbed to the pressure and made errors on his flying lap. The problem this time however wasn’t driver error, it was traffic. The plan to complete a timed run with an empty track had failed as drivers started to come out for their second half of the session.
Championship contender Felipe Nasr was out of place in 11th position, and failed to improve in the final minutes of the session. The Brazilian may face a grid penalty, as he is currently under investigation for impeding team-mate Julian Leal.
With only a handful of minutes left in the session, Palmer pitted with a time of 1:56.857 hoping that would be enough to get him over the line.
A few seconds after the Briton had pitted, Vandoorne crossed the line for his best time of the session, 0.018 seconds faster than Palmer, handing him pole position on home soil.
Mitch Evans rounded out the top three a further two-tenths back, with Raffaele Marciello and Cecotto close behind.