CLICK: Full GP2 qualifying session results
Racing Engineering's Raffaele Marciello will start from pole position for the first time in GP2, after finishing just 0.027s clear of current championship leader Jolyon Palmer in qualifying at Silverstone on Friday afternoon.
"I am very happy with my first pole position in GP2 after the difficult start I had to the season," said the 19-year-old. "After Austria we knew that things are shaping up and with each session there was an improvement and my engineer understands me and what I want more and more.
"The objective for tomorrow is clearly the race win. I was on the podium twice in Austria and showed a strong performance there, so tomorrow the race win and taking the points for fastest lap is what we re aiming for," he added.
As the drivers streamed off pit road to get the 30-minute qualifying underway, it was already noticeable that conditions were cooler and cloudier than they had been for the earlier practice session, while the gusty wins had if anything piked up. That made staying on the track even trickier, and the race stewards issued an early warning that anyone who gained an advantage by exceeding track limits during the session would find their lap time deleted as a consequence.
Trident's Johnny Cecotto Jr. did exactly that on his first flying lap, and instead it was DAMS' Jolyon Palmer who went top early with a lap of 1:40.472s already significantly faster than the practice times now that everyone had broken out the Pirelli P-Zero medium compound option tyres, with Mitch Evans (Russian Time), Stoffel Vandoorne (ART), Felipe Nasr (Carlin) and Stephane Richelmi (DAMS) also quickly into the 1:40s.
Picking up where he'd left off in practice, Marciello then pipped Palmer to the top spot by 0.027s. Palmer looked set to immediately counter-attack but he ran into traffic and was unable to improve his time after all. However, there was an improved effort for Julian Leal that put the Carlin into fourth place, while an impressive run for Lotus F1 reserve driver Marco Sorensen put the Dane into a provisional eighth place on his first day in the MP Motorsport #21.
Stefano Coletti had not been as lucky with his first run as his team mate Marciello and was mired in 11th place, while Hilmer Motorsport's late-notice stand-in driver Jon Lancaster was languishing in 19th place going into the usual mid-session lull.
The drivers returned to action with a little under ten minutes remaining, but traffic made it difficult for anyone to improve their times. Marciello remained just ahead of Palmer, Evans and Leal with a mere four hundredths of a second covering all four, with Vandoorne and Nasr a further two tenths off their pace.
Marciello's final qualifying run met with traffic while Vandoorne's saw a slight overrun into the dirt; with Palmer and Evans both ending their campaigns early there was no one left to upset the top six which remained static to the chequered flag. However a stunning lap from Sorenson saw the newcomer secure an impressive seventh place ahead of Richelmi in the final seconds of the session, with a time that actually equalled Nasr's in sixth place down to the thousandths of a second.
There was distinct disappointment for several drivers who had performed strongly in the earlier practice session only to fail to deliver when it really mattered: Cecotto could only achieve ninth place on the feature race grid ahead of Hilmer's Daniel Abt, while Caterham pair Sergio Canamasas and Alexander Rossi could only manage 15th and 16th respectively.
Lancaster qualified in 20th place on his GP2 return, just ahead of Venezuela GP Lazarus' Conor Daly in 21st. The slowest man in the session was Russian Time's Artem Markelov, but he was nonetheless safely within the requisite 107% lap time required to ensure his participation in this weekend's races.
The 29-lap feature race 1 gets underway on Saturday afternoon at 2.40pm following the end of qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Britain, while the start of the 21-lap sprint race 2 is scheduled for 9.20am on Sunday morning. In the UK, GP2 sessions air live on Sky Sports F1
See full GP2 qualifying session results