His father used to be a master of the timed session in Formula One, but Nicolas Prost found just how tough nailing a flying lap can be as he attempted to get the Team France entry onto the front of the grid for round two of the A1GP campaign in China.

The second generation driver was feeling confident after a good free practice session, and looked on course to claim pole when an incident a few hundred metres from the line dashed his hopes.

After adopting a cautious approach in the opening session of qualifying, which set the grid for Sunday's sprint race, and deciding not to use its new tyres until the second part, the French team found itself restricted to sixth place as the final session was cancelled owing to delays in recovering a stranded car

In the third segment, which kicked off qualifying for the feature event, Prost was held up by another car and could only set the tenth-fastest time, leaving his eventual position depending on his final run. The Frenchman set off with the bit between his teeth and set the quickest time in the first and second sectors with a display of controlled aggression.

He looked set to take pole with a few tenths in hand until he came upon a car crawling in the final corner. It was the second time he'd been baulked in the two sessions and once again his hopes were dashed.

"I would so much have liked to start from pole in my first race with A1 Team France, so I was bitterly disappointed after qualifying, but we've now got to concentrate on the two races tomorrow," the disappointed driver admitted.

"Today, I showed that we have the speed to fight at the front. My aim will be to try and overtake on this twisty circuit in the short race and use an aggressive strategy for the feature. Overall, I'm satisfied with my performance, but things would have been different but for that last-corner incident. But that's motor racing!"

Team France, however, admitted that it was delighted with Prost's performance, knowing now that it can count on a highly-skilled second driver to stand in for regular pilot Loic Duval when the need arises.

"Nicolas was bitterly disappointed when he got out of the car," sporting director Olivier Panis confirmed, "but we have to see the positive side of his performance. Since first getting behind the wheel, he's amazed the whole team and has been consistently among the frontrunners.

"The performance he looked set to achieve in the fourth segment was incredible, and pole position was well within his grasp, but we've now got to put this disappointment behind us and tackle the race in a calm frame of mind. We can score points, and the championship is so closely-fought that every position gained will count at the end of the season."