Max Chilton followed up his flying lap in the morning practice session with a pole position lap set in the second half of the half hour Friday afternoon qualifying action, and the Carlin driver was also the only cause of local waved yellows during the session right at the end.
"I'm really pleased to be where I want to be, I'm happy for the team and I'm looking to convert it to the win tomorrow," said Chilton after the session.
Caterham's Giedo van der Garde had emerged as the fastest man in the early part of the session, overcoming early challenges from Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer and Coloni's Fabio Onidi to set a benchmark time of 1:31.953s in the first ten minutes for everyone else to shoot for. That put him two tenths ahead of Johnny Cecotto Jr., who despite his impressive pace is facing a five place grid penalty for Saturday, after having been deemed to have caused a crash at the start of the Spa sprint race last weekend.
Also looking strong in this first run of flying laps were Carlin's Max Chilton, the fastest man in the morning practice session; and also Lotus GP's Esteban Gutiérrez and Felipe Nasr. However, Luca Filippi's return to GP2 after a year away was temporarily derailed when he missed the first half of the session stuck in the Coloni pits, having a technical problem with his pedals sorted out after completing just two shakedown laps.
After the usual mid-session lull while everyone came in for last-minute tweaks and tyre changes, the Lotus pair of Gutiérrez and James Calado were first back out seeking to use the clear track to put in some fast laps. Having the same idea were iSport's Marcus Ericcson and Stefano Coletti in his new Rapax colours. However, no one was threatening the top times and it appeared that the teams had put their major firepower into their opening gambits.
With one notable exception: problem solved, Luca Filippi was finally able to get out on track and immediately he punched out his first time of the afternoon with a lap of 1:32.165s on the 5.793km circuit, putting him straight into third place behind van der Garde and Cecotto. That seemed to break the deadlock, and with only six minutes remaining in the session Max Chilton improved his own laptime to 1:31.886s to edge van der Garde for provisional pole by 0.067s.
Davide Valsecchi's latest effort was good enough to get the DAMS car into fifth place while Fabio Leimer took seventh behind Ericsson. The Lotus GP cars were losing out in the reshuffle: Gutiérrez finished the day early in the pits and was pushed down to ninth place just behind Fabio Onidi, while Calado was out of the top ten altogether in a disappointing 13th behind Arden's Luiz Razia, the championship co-leader never quite looking fully on the pace at Monza.
In the final two minutes the session was reaching a climax with Chilton, Filippi, Valsecchi and Leimer all on fliers looking to clinch pole. Then Chilton managed to stray onto the grass verge through Parabolica and spin the Carlin car, beaching it in the gravel and bringing out local waved yellows that thwarted everyone's final chance of improving their laptimes. Coincidentally, that ensured that Chilton's earlier lap was good enough to secure pole for Saturday's starting grid, Carlin's third consecutive feature race pole position.
"I was pushing just a little too hard on my final lap and last corner caught me out," said the Briton. "I tried catching the car but it was just far too gone, it would have been nice to see how that lap would have ended because I was going faster at the time."