Pierre Gasly has put his PREMA on pole for the sprint race at the GP2 Series finale at the Yas Marina Circuit as the title battle between himself and teammate Antonio Giovinazzi takes yet another twist.

The Frenchman waited as the first heat of laps was done before he took to the track, some ten minutes into the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a lap of 1:47.476 and obliterating the competition.

As other drivers went back to the race track for a second run, Gasly joined them hoping to improve on his time. He wasn’t, however, the one to improve as second-placed Sergey Sirotkin came close to snatching pole on his final attempt before losing out in the penultimate corner. The Russian had to settle for second alongside Gasly who cut Giovinazzi’s title lead to just three points with the bonus points earned for claiming pole position.

The real shocker, however, were the trio of Artem Markelov, Nobuharu Matsushita and Oliver Rowland, whose last-minute charges put them in third, fourth and fifth respectively, pushing championship leader Giovinazzi to sixth on the grid, eight-tenths off his pole-sitting teammate after hitting traffic on each of his hot laps.

Norman Nato will start seventh for Racing Engineering ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Alex Lynn and Mitch Evans.

Saturday’s GP2 Series Feature Race at Yas Marina will begin at 18:40 local time (GMT +4).

2016 GP2 Series Abu Dhabi – Final Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Pierre Gasly fr PREMA Racing 1:47.476
2. Sergey Sirotkin ru ART Grand Prix 1:47.804 + 0.328
3. Artem Markelov ru RUSSIAN TIME 1:47.901 + 0.425
4. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 1:47.997 + 0.521
5. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 1:48.130 + 0.654
6. Antonio Giovinazzi it PREMA Racing 1:48.288 + 0.812
7. Norman Nato fr Racing Engineering 1:48.307 + 0.831
8. Raffaele Marciello it RUSSIAN TIME 1:48.368 + 0.892
9. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 1:48.524 + 1.048
10. Mitch Evans nz Pertamina Campos Racing 1:48.559 + 1.083
11. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 1:48.712 + 1.236
12. Luca Ghiotto* it Trident 1:48.830 + 1.354
13. Johnny Cecotto Jr ve Rapax 1:48.976 + 1.500
14. Nicholas Latifi ca DAMS 1:49.075 + 1.599
15. Gustav Malja se Rapax 1:49.206 + 1.730
16. Sergio Canamasas es Carlin 1:49.779 + 2.303
17. Philo Paz Armand* id Trident 1:49.950 + 2.474
18. Nabil Jeffri my Arden International 1:50.135 + 2.659
19. Sean Gelael* id Pertamina Campos Racing 1:50.233 + 2.757
20. Louis Delétraz ch Carlin 1:50.234 + 2.758
21. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 1:50.276 + 2.800
22. Emil Bernstoff uk Arden International 1:50.470 + 2.994

*Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Luca Ghiotto – who provisionally qualified 12th-fastest – will serve a three-place grid penalty for impeding Antonio Giovinazzi in qualifying.
  • Philo Paz Armand – who provisionally qualified 17th-fastest – will serve a three-place grid penalty for impeding Gustav Malja during qualifying.
  • Sean Gelael – who provisionally qualified 19th-fastest – will serve a three-place grid penalty for failing to observe the track limits at Turn 8.

Image via GP2 Series Media

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8