CLICK: Full GP3 qualifying session results
No one could say that they weren't warned by the weather forecasts, but it was still a shock to the system for the GP3 drivers and teams to arrive at a gloomy Silverstone on Saturday morning to find the track in a thoroughly drenched state.
Heading out for qualifying, the cars were all sending up huge rooster tails of water spray, and visibility was at a minimum. The plan was to run some slow-speed laps to allow the wet weather tyres to start clearing something approaching a dry line before starting to attempt qualifying speeds, but the session never got that far before a red flag was being shown.
The cause was for contact between the two new boys in the series: Mitch Gilbert's Trident was a wreck after rolling in the gravel trap at the end of the Hanger Straight, seemingly after contact with the Hilmer Motorsport car of Sebastian Balthasar which limped back to the pits with its rear wing assembly totally demolished. Balthasar looked fine if a little shaken, while Gilbert was quickly out of his wrecked car, uninjured although nursing a sore arm as the marshalls cleared up the wreckage.
The session resumed with 26 minutes remaining on the clock and conditions remained treacherous despite the rain having stopped and some of the worst of the standing water having started to drain off during the red flag hiatus. Everyone still tip-toed around, but several continued to experience slow-speed spins as they hit patches of water. It was Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson who set the first actual time of the morning with a lap of 2:07.650s, which was soon shaved to 2:07.340 by championship leader Alex Lynn in the Carlin - still 20 seconds slower than Status GP's Nick Yelloly had managed in dry practice on Friday evening.
It was Yelloly himself who went top next with a lap of 2:06.984s, which he promptly reduced by another 0.179s on his next attempt despite coming up on the back of traffic, with his team mate Richie Stanaway moving into second place ahead of Lynn who opted for an early return to pit road to work on his set-up. Stanaway's next effort put him ahead of Yelloly with a new benchmark of 2:06.704s, before he joined the rest of the field now heading to pit road.
When Lynn got back to business he was out with eight laps remaining in the session and was immediately back on the pace, slicing off over a second from Stanaway's previous provisional time with a lap of 2:05.638s. ART's Marvin Kirchhofer confirmed that there was more speed now on the track by popping into second place, albeit still three quarters of a second off Lynn's flier.
There were also improved laps from Dino Zamparelli (ART), Jann Mardenborough (Arden) and Emil Bernstorff (Carlin) and it was clear that whoever could time their flying lap for the very end of the session would have the whip hand. As if to prove the point, Eriksson shot to the top with a minute remaining after posting a time of 2L05.322s.
Lynn had no reply to this, and even though he crossed the line before the chequered flag he was unable to find the time he needed to extend his run of pole positions in 2014, settling instead for a front row spot alongside Eriksson who had successfully clinched his first GP3 pole. Kirchhofer was able to hold on to third place on the grid alongside Zamparelli, while row three will be shared by Mardenborough and Bernstorff.
Status GP pairing Stanaway and Yelloly were forced down to seventh and eighth place by the end of the session, something of a disappointment considering their earlier form. The third member of the team line-up, Alfonso Celis Jr, will start on the row behind them alongside Hilmer Motorsport's Riccardo Agostini.
See full GP3 qualifying session results