James Calado led an ART one-two in a wet/dry GP3 qualifying session at Spa on Saturday morning.
The session started with conditions clearly requiring wet weather tires, but the track dried slowly throughout the 30 minutes. By the end, the track had just reached the crossover point for slick tires, and those that gambled on an early switch had their tires up to temperature to capitalize.
Calado's final lap initially put him on pole by 1.8 seconds from RSC Mucke's Nigel Melker, who was in a favorable position given that he was the last driver across the line before the checkered flag came out.
Championship leader Valtteri Bottas, who joined Calado in making the early switch, followed Melker across the line. His lap missed pole by 0.088sec, while Melker had to settle for third place.
"We gambled on making the switch just 12 minutes into the session," said Calado. "At the time I came in we were P28, but it paid off in the end because I had a bit more tire temperature than the others by the end."
Some drivers did not bother with switching to slicks, and had the session ended a couple of minutes earlier that decision could have paid off. Lewis Williamson (MW Arden) took pole on wets with two minutes to go, but by the end he had dropped to 10th.
Antonio Felix da Costa was the only driver to make a significant improvement on his final lap despite still being on wets, earning himself fourth on the grid for Status. Manor's Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, who dominated the first half of the session, took fifth on slicks.
Da Costa's teammate, title hopeful Alexander Sims, was unable to put a lap together despite joining the ART frontrunners in making the early switch to slicks. He had been on pole before coming in to change tires, but eventually slumped to 17th.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. James Calado ART 2m20.146s
2. Valtteri Bottas ART 2m20.234s + 0.088s
3. Nigel Melker RSC Mucke 2m21.315s + 1.169s
4. Antonio Felix da Costa Status 2m22.359s + 2.213s
5. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Manor 2m22.689s + 2.543s
6. Nick Yelloly Atech CRS 2m22.818s + 2.672s
7. Conor Daly Carlin 2m22.988s + 2.842s
8. Tom Dillmann Addax 2m23.088s + 2.942s
9. Nico Muller Jenzer 2m23.256s + 3.110s
10. Lewis Williamson MW Arden 2m23.272s + 3.126s
11. Mitch Evans MW Arden 2m23.439s + 3.293s
12. Michael Christensen RSC Mucke 2m23.693s + 3.547s
13. Ivan Lukashevich Status 2m23.772s + 3.626s
14. Aaro Vainio Tech 1 2m24.106s + 3.960s
15. Alex Fontana Jenzer 2m24.300s + 4.154s
16. Marlon Stockinger Atech CRS 2m24.651s + 4.505s
17. Alexander Sims Status 2m24.774s + 4.628s
18. Richie Stanaway ART 2m24.911s + 4.765s
19. Leonardo Cordeiro Carlin 2m25.172s + 5.026s
20. Rio Haryanto Manor 2m25.496s + 5.350s
21. Maxim Zimin Jenzer 2m25.560s + 5.414s
22. Daniel Mancinelli RSC Mucke 2m25.857s + 5.711s
23. Simon Trummer MW Arden 2m26.284s + 6.138s
24. Zoel Amberg Atech CRS 2m26.917s + 6.771s
25. Dean Smith Addax 2m26.952s + 6.850s
26. Mattias Laine Manor 2m27.996s + 7.850s
27. Thomas Hylkema Tech 1 2m28.115s + 7.969s
28. Tamas Pal Kiss Tech 1 2m28.738s + 8.592s
29. Gabby Chaves Addax 2m29.743s + 9.597s
30. Callum Macleod Carlin 2m29.751s + 9.605s