Lotus ART's Jules Bianchi put in a late flying lap in the final seconds of Friday morning practice to take the top spot on the timesheets with a laptime of 1:47.681s, just over half a tenth faster than Barwa Addax's Giedo van der Garde in second with Super Nova's Luca Filippi just edging out Romain Grosjean for third.
Grosjean had leapt to the top of the timesheets within the first ten minutes after beating the set time of Christian Vietoris, at which point Josef Kral spun and stalled in turn 14 and brought out the first red flag interruption of the day while his car was retrieved.
When the track went green again, Vietoris, Sam Bird and Esteban Gutierrez led the surge to try and topple Grosjean form the top, but no one had been successful by the time Grosjean's Dams team mate Pal Varhaug brought out the second red flags of the 20 minute session after himself spinning and stalling in turn 14.
That had looked to be the end of the session, but Varhaug's car was cleared in time to allow the teams one last flying lap so that the battle for the top spot became a de facto one-lap shootout format.
Grosjean's effort his the tail-end of slow traffic coming out of the pit lane in the form of iSport's Marcus Ericsson and he was unable to improve on his time. But everyone else was faster than they had been, and Grosjean ended up being pushed down to fourth place by the final runs of Bianchi, van der Garde and Filippi.
Vietoris finished in tenth place on his first GP2 outing since he crashed heavily at Istanbul Park in the opening race of the season. Alvara Parente - who subbed for Vietoris at Racing Engineering for the last two weekends - placed 12th on his first run for Carlin, taking over the seat formerly held by Mikhail Aleshin and Oliver Turvey.
Full practice times