Full GP2 qualifying session results
It had looked as though championship leader Jolyon Palmer was going to ride the momentum all the way to to his second consecutive pole position of the 2014 GP2 season, but instead the Briton found himself displaced from the top spot by a fine effort from his own DAMS team mate Stephane Richelmi early in the 30-minute qualifying session at the 2.892 mile, 16-turn Circuit de Cataluna in Barcelona on Friday afternoon.
The session started with 24 of the 26 drivers queuing up waiting to exit pit lane, only ART playing the strategy card an holding back their drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Takuya Izawa from the fray. Early honours on the timesheets immediately went to the Richelmi and Palmer on their first flying laps, with Carlin's Felipe Nasr taking third position ahead of Mitch Evans in the Russian Time #1.
Richelmi's benchmark effort of 1:29.293s stood through to the mid-session interval, by which time Vandoorne had finally been released from the ART pit box and sent out onto a near-empty track to see what he could do without any traffic getting in the way. However the Belgian wasn't able to take full advantage of the intriguing strategy however, and his time was only good enough for six place. That put him just behind Caterham's Alexander Rossi and two tenths ahead of Racing Engineering's new rookie driver Raffaele Marciello.
Vandoorne's time in the sun over, the rest of the field started to rouse itself with less than ten minutes remaining in order to improve their grid positions. Tio Ellinas was able to do just that with his flying effort to put him ahead of Vandoorne, and then there were impressive laps from Stefano Coletti and his team mate Marciello to put them into the top four behind the DAMS pair, bumping Nasr down to fifth as they made the second row an all-Racing Engineering affair.
After that flurry of excitement it seemed unlikely that anyone would have anything left on their tyres to improve their existing times any further, and sure enough most drivers were able to improve their first sector tyres only to lose time in the final sector. When the chequered flag came out the only significant advancement was from Julian Leal, who managed to put his Carlin into seventh place and onto the fourth row of the grid alongside Rossi.
Ellinas held on to ninth place ahead of Vandoorne, while Rio Haryanto put his Caterham into 11th just ahead of Arden stand-in Tom Dillmann, who is subbing at short notice for an injured Andre Negrao. Sergio Canamasas qualified in 20th place for Trident in his first GP2 race of the year, but there was bad news for Conor Daly who was the slowest man on track for Venezuela GP Lazarus, 2.265s off Richelmi's pole time after having lost most of the practice session to a brake line failure.
There were no major incidents or red flags during the session. The nearest moment came when Johnny Cecotto Jr. once again had a lairy moment through the final chicane where he had spun the Trident in the morning practice, but this time he gathered it up nicely and kept on with his lap.
Feature race 1 takes place on Saturday afternoon at 3.40pm (2.40pm BST), with the sprint race 2 on Sunday morning at 10.35am (9.35am BST). GP3 also returns to action for the first time in 2014 with practice on Friday afternoon at 5.50pm (4.50pm BST), qualifying on Saturday morning at 9.45am (8.45am BST) and race 1 at 5.20pm (4.20pm BST) later the same day. The second GP3 race is first thing on Sunday morning at 9.25am (8.25am BST).
All GP2 and GP3 qualifying and race sessions are carried live in the UK on Sky Sports F1
Full GP2 qualifying session results now available.