Marcus Ericsson will start round five of the GP2 Series at Barcelona from pole position, leading a 1-2 for reigning champion DAMS ahead of teammate Stephane Richelmi.
Ericsson, who had not scored a point this season until taking the four for pole position – his first-ever in the series – left it late to grab the top spot, having previously led the way for much of the session only for Richelmi to look like he had snatched it late in the session.
Track conditions were dry but with cloud cover rolling in, and rain threatening, there was a clamor to get on track and set a time as soon as possible, with all cars qualifying on the soft-compound Pirelli control tire.
Points leader Stefano Coletti (Rapax) was the first front-runner to set a competitive time, but he was soon beaten by the following James Calado in his ART machine. Ericsson then crossed the line to wrest the top spot away, with Sam Bird popping up in second moments later for Russian Time.
Carlin's Felipe Nasr then claimed the second spot, 0.057 second down on Ericsson's fastest time, demoting Bird to the second row alongside Calado.
On the second run on fresh tires, as the rain held off, Coletti soon jumped to third, with only a scrappy few final corners costing him a spot on the front row.
With 10 minutes remaining, and the track temperature dropping a couple of degrees due to the cloud cover, Nasr was next to shoot at Ericsson's pole time. But his 1m29.168s was a fraction slower than he had managed on his first run, as again the final sector proved his undoing.
Bird then took a shot, but his final sector was half a second slower than Ericsson's, and he stayed third. He got to within 0.036sec of Nasr's third-placed time, however.
Then from out of nowhere came Richelmi, who appeared to make big suspension changes in his time in the pits as he was only ninth after his first run. He suddenly leapt to the top of the times – only for teammate Ericsson to take it back seconds later by 0.165sec.
Behind the all-DAMS front row, Nasr will start third ahead of Bird and Coletti.
Two-time feature race winner Fabio Leimer will start sixth for Racing Engineering ahead of Calado, with Robin Frijns in eighth ahead of two Kevins, Ceccon and Giovesi.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1m28.706s
2. Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1m28.871s + 0.165s
3. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1m29.152s + 0.446s
4. Sam Bird Russian Time 1m29.188s + 0.482s
5. Stefano Coletti Rapax 1m29.213s + 0.507s
6. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1m29.293s + 0.587s
7. James Calado ART 1m29.318s + 0.612s
8. Robin Frijns Hilmer 1m29.321s + 0.615s
9. Kevin Ceccon Trident 1m29.424s + 0.718s
10. Kevin Giovesi Lazarus 1m29.425s + 0.719s
11. Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1m29.609s + 0.903s
12. Daniel Abt ART 1m29.668s + 0.962s
13. Sergio Canamasas Caterham 1m29.685s + 0.979s
14. Tom Dillmann Russian Time 1m29.739s + 1.033s
15. Jon Lancaster Hilmer 1m29.759s + 1.053s
16. Jake Rosenzweig Addax 1m29.792s + 1.086s
17. Alexander Rossi Caterham 1m29.804s + 1.098s
18. Julian Leal Racing Engineering 1m29.824s + 1.118s
19. Mitch Evans Arden 1m29.936s + 1.230s
20. Rene Binder Lazarus 1m29.956s + 1.250s
21. Nathanael Berthon Trident 1m29.969s + 1.263s
22. Rio Haryanto Addax 1m30.020s + 1.314s
23. Johnny Cecotto Arden 1m30.025s + 1.319s
24. Simon Trummer Rapax 1m30.025s + 1.319s
25. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP 1m30.763s + 2.057s
26. Daniel de Jong MP 1m30.773s + 2.067s