Stoffel Vandoorne will start ahead of Jenson Button on his Formula 1 race debut as he turned in one of McLaren's better qualifying performances since its switch to Honda power with a run to 12th on the grid.
Making his much anticipated debut with the team this weekend in place of the injured Fernando Alonso, Vandoorne was just two tenths slower than his former title-winning team-mate in FP3, despite losing a portion of the session with an oil leak.
However, in qualifying conditions, Vandoorne would impress further, his quick lap in Q2 proving faster than Button's to place the car on the seventh row, notably ahead of his team-mate in 14th position.
It is a result the 2015 GP2 champion was delighted with, not least because of the Button scalp, but also because he felt he got the maximum out of the car on only his second day in the MP4-31.
“I think I can be pretty happy after today's result. I felt pretty confident in the car, today was all about fine tuning it. FP was quite good, I knew there was time to come. Qualifying was a close call in Q1 but in Q2 I had a clean lap without mistakes.
“I knew after yesterday and today that I had similar pace to Jenson and I knew that if I could improve it a bit I could out-qualify him. It is a good feeling but the most important job is tomorrow and try to have a good race.”
Looking ahead to his maiden race, Vandoorne says he won't make specific predictions despite his proximity to the top ten and the points.
“I wouldn't make any predictions. Qualifying was a good result and there is much to analyse before tomorrow, but I feel confident I can do a good job. Where it brings us we will see tomorrow.