Alvaro Parente has claimed the first pole position for himself and Ocean Racing Technology with a stunning lap just at the close of this afternoon's qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

The Portuguese driver set a time of 1 minute 54.970 seconds to slot into the top spot by less than a tenth from Lucas di Grassi and Nico H?lkenberg. His run was timed to perfection and put him on a clear track as his rivals tripped over themselves on their last tour.

The session opened under bright conditions and with a dry track, the opposite of this morning's free practice, and the pace was soon frantic on track as the field looked to claim an early advantage.

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Di Grassi, Sergio Perez and H?lkenberg set the early running until Davide Rigon beached himself after a spin at the Bus Stop, and the red flags were soon out so the marshals could retrieve the Italian.

Karun Chandhok set the fastest lap just after the session was re-started, but H?lkenberg was on a mission and he reclaimed the top spot a few minutes later, although di Grassi immediately shaded his rival's lap to put himself in a prime position for pole.

Title challenger Vitaly Petrov finally then claimed a strong lap time but was still two tenths off the pace, and the front runners were soon into the pits for fresh tyres and a final run at the prize with just five minutes left.

Petrov and H?lkenberg caught traffic however as Parente set his best time and, with one minute to go, Roldan Rodriguez stopped on track to bring the session to an early close.

Behind the top three Diego Nunes had his best qualifying session to finish fourth, just ahead of Petrov, Chandhok, Perez and Rodriguez, who were all within three tenths of pole. With 17 drivers within a second of the top spot, the battle at the start of tomorrow's race one promises to be the most intense fight so far this season.

To see the full qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps click here.