Davide Valsecchi will start from pole position in Saturday's GP2 Series feature race in Bahrain after setting the fastest time in qualifying around the Sakhir circuit.
The majority of front-runners went straight out on the softer medium option tire, to make use of the Formula 1 rubber from the preceding free practice session. This worked a treat for Valsecchi, whose DAMS car first lapped in 1m41.327s and then, after a cool-down lap, dropped the pole time even further to 1m41.200s, which no one could beat.
Valsecchi was just over a quarter of a second faster than the Lotus-run car of Esteban Gutierrez on 1m41.479s, with his DAMS teammate Felipe Nasr in third on 1m41.785s.
The top driver to switch to the options for his second run, rather than his first, was Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer, who set his 1m41.789s with seven minutes remaining. Track temperature was down some 50 degrees from this morning's free practice, making tire pressure settings even more tricky to judge than usual.
Johnny Cecotto Jr. will start fifth, another to leave his option tires until his second run for Addax, ahead of Trident's Stephane Richelmi. Marcus Ericsson (iSport, who has a 10-place grid penalty for hitting Valsecchi in Malaysia) was seventh-fastest, followed by Sepang sprint race winner James Calado (Lotus).
Points leader Luis Razia will start down in ninth for Arden, alongside Max Chilton, whose Carlin machine lost a lot of pace since free practice. Series returnee Dani Clos was 14th fastest in the second Addax car.
The session was stopped after 13 minutes due to series returnee Brendon Hartley's broken front wing littering the track at the final corner. He was 21st quickest in his Ocean-run machine. Giedo van der Garde (Caterham, 12th) and Simon Trummer (Arden, 24th) were also reportedly involved in the incident, which the stewards are looking into.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1m41.200s
2. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus 1m41.479s + 0.279s
3. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1m41.785s + 0.585s
4. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1m41.798s + 0.598s
5. Johnny Cecotto Addax 1m41.858s + 0.658s
6. Stephane Richelmi Trident 1m41.862s + 0.662s
7. Marcus Ericsson iSport 1m41.933s + 0.733s
8. James Calado Lotus 1m41.939s + 0.739s
9. Luiz Razia Arden 1m41.962s + 0.762s
10. Max Chilton Carlin 1m41.980s + 0.780s
11. Rio Haryanto Carlin 1m42.097s + 0.897s
12. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m42.139s + 0.939s
13. Jolyon Palmer iSport 1m42.156s + 0.956s
14. Dani Clos Addax 1m42.158s + 0.958s
15. Tom Dillmann Rapax 1m42.190s + 0.990s
16. Fabio Onidi Coloni 1m42.374s + 1.174s
17. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham 1m42.409s + 1.209s
18. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering 1m42.427s + 1.227s
19. Julian Leal Trident 1m42.456s + 1.256s
20. Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus 1m42.706s + 1.506s
21. Brendon Hartley Ocean 1m42.782s + 1.582s
22. Stefano Coletti Coloni 1m42.853s + 1.653s
23. Nigel Melker Ocean 1m42.895s + 1.695s
24. Simon Trummer Arden 1m43.014s + 1.814s
25. Giancarlo Serenelli Lazarus 1m43.907s + 2.707s
26. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 1m44.078s + 2.878s