After the dismal conditions for the second F1 free practice session, it was no surprise that GP2 faced an equally wet qualifying session half an hour later. Even though the rain itself soon stopped momentarily, the track was still awash with standing water - especially in sector 3 - and wet tyres were the order of the hour.
Romain Grosjean was quick to go top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:59.020s, over 18s slower than his time in the morning session illustrating just how poor conditions were at the start of this afternoon 30 minute session. Lotus ART's Jules Bianchi went faster on his second attempt and set a new benchmark of 1:58.531s, with Carlin's Alvaro Parente slipping into second spot with a time of 1:58.971s.
After this first flurry of laps, and just as the merest hint of a drier line emerged on the track, the rain started again ten minutes in the session to set things back and the cars were soon struggling to stay on the track without engaging in scenic and scary excursions.
With little chance of improving their times at this point, all cars returned to the GP2 pit area and battened down the hatches as the latest shower became a deluge. Only six cars had put in laptimes under the two minute markbefore this change in weather fortunes - Bianchi, Parente and Grosjean followed by Christian Vietoris, Dani Clos and Max Chilton.
With Kevin Mirocha not taking part in qualifying as he had suffered a recurrence of a pre-existing shoulder injury, Fabio Leimer was the only driver not to have set a time and who therefore was first to venture out when the latest heavy shower abated to try and get within the 107% threshold. He was joined by Rodolfo Gonzalez and then several of the other drivers outside the top ten; the leaders, however, hung back and preferred to wait and see how things went rather than risk damaging their cars by rushing back into the fray.
In the end the clock ran out with most of the cars still waiting for any glimmer of hope. Everyone was watching Leimer's labours, as he agonisingly pushed to make the 107% time: his fatest lap of 2:08.608 is still over one and a half seconds outside the threshold and the Rapax team will have to apply for special dispensation for him to make the grid. Given that Leimer was 14th in the practice session and comfortably on the pace, it is likely that this will be granted. However, Mirocha will not play any further part in the race weekend.
In the final moments, Rodolfo Gonzalez was caught out by the conditions and lost control of his Trident, spinning at turn 1 and bringing out yellows that saw the session come to a very damp squib of an ending. That meant Bianchi's time from early in the session stood as the fastest of the afternoon and the Frenchman duly claimed pole position and will line up alongside Parente on the front row for Saturday's feature race.
Romain Grosjean's third place time in the session will translate to a grid position of 13th after the ten place grid penalty
for causing an avoidable accident at the start of the Valencia sprint race is applied.
The fastest man in morning practice, iSport's Sam Bird, was only able to manage eighth place with a lap of 2:00.175s before the rain came down, and Giedo van der Garde was even more seriously caught out and will start from 19th after posting a time of 2:01.894s. Luca Filippi will also start from the wrong half of the grid in 17th after he ran into the gravel during that opening ten minute window.
The feature race will start after F1 qualifying on Saturday afternoon at 2.40pm and will be held over 29 laps of the newly-configured venue. The sprint race will run for 14 laps on Sunday from 9.30am.
Full qualifying positions