Romain Grosjean has secured the first points of the new GP2 Series campaign by claiming pole position for this weekend's curtain-raising 2009 outing in Barcelona, just ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov.
The Frenchman was run very close by his Brazilian rival – the gap between them a scant two hundredths of a second at the close – with their duel taking them a full half second clear of any other driver in the field, as Vitaly Petrov sealed third place in the second of the two Barwa Addax machines.
With temperatures in the pit-lane soaring as the session got underway, the majority of the field were immediately on-track to take advantage. Giacomo Ricci and Pastor Maldonado set the early pace before Grosjean laid down the gauntlet – and suddenly the fight was on.
di Grassi, Andreas Zuber and Jérôme d'Ambrosio were the principal contenders for the top spot, and Grosjean had to re-emerge late in the session to cover himself. The Renault F1 reserve driver was held up by traffic on his fastest lap, but despite last-minute challenges from both his team-mate and di Grassi, he had just done enough to claim the first pole of the year.
Behind the top three in the final reckoning were ART Grand Prix star Nico Hülkenberg, Zuber in comfortably the leading FMSI entry, Luca Filippi, DAMS ace d'Ambrosio and Diego Nunes for former series champions iSport International, although Filippi – in common with Super Nova team-mate Javier Villa – will lose three places on the grid as a result of his penalty for having failed to slow sufficiently under yellow flags in the morning practice session.
With 15 drivers all within a second of pole and 24 of them within two seconds, expect fireworks right from the start of Saturday's race...
To see the qualifying times in full, click here