Kazim Vasiliauskas claimed his first career Formula 2 pole position in qualifying for Saturday's first race at Imola.
The 19-year-old Lithuanian lies eighth in the championship, having already scored three podiums this season. He triumphed in a frentic session, during which several drivers held the top spot, setting his best time with six minutes remaining.
Home driver Mirko Bortolotti had set the pace throughout the first 10 minutes, until he was knocked off the top spot by countryman Nicola de Marco. But the Italian sweep of the front row was broken in the last five minutes by a surge of quick laps.
Canada's Robert Wickens went second fastest and then slid off the circuit twice on his next lap, and was eventually pushed down to fourth as Bortolotti and Aleshin improved again at the end.
Philipp Eng briefly held pole before Vasiliauskas's effort, but he ended up fifth, ahead of championship leader Andy Soucek, Sebastian Hohenthal and German Sanchez, who scored his best grid spot of the season.
Julien Jousse and Edoardo Piscopo completed the top 10, with de Marco sliding from first to 11th in the last 10 minutes.