CLICK: Full GP3 qualifying results from the Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Jimmy Eriksson claimed his second GP3 pole position with an impressive lap of 1:38.195s at the historic 3.6-mile, 11-turn Autodromo Nazionale Monza during qualifying on Saturday morning.
The Koiranen GP driver, who had been only 19th fastest in the tricky damp practice conditions on Friday afternoon, was able to time his flying lap to perfection and avoided the traffic and a late brace of yellow flags that prevented other drivers from fighting back before the chequered flag ended the 30-minute session.
Conditions couldn't have been more perfect on Saturday morning with sunshine and blue skies ensuring a lively qualifying with provisional pole changing back and forth constantly.
First out on track was ART's Marvin Kirchhöfer but it was Eriksson who quickly laid down the first representative time of 1:40.243s to get the action underway. After that Luca Ghiotto (Trident), Pal Varhaug (Jenzer Motorsport) and Riccardo Agostini (Hilmer Motorsport) all had brief spells at the top of the timesheets before championship leader Alex Lynn went top with a lap of 1:39.449s ahead of Dino Zamparelli (ART) and Emil Bernstorff (Carlin).
After topping Friday's practice session with a daring late switch to slicks despite the still-damp conditions, Jenzer's Kevin Ceccon once more put his local knowledge to good use by going top with a lap of 1:39.324s but Lynn immediately responded with a lap 0.657s faster. His next lap looked on course to be even quicker until the Carlin ran wide and onto the kerbs in the final sector, so Lynn opted to take an early mid-session pit stop instead.
While Lynn was in for service there were quick laps for Eriksson, Jann Mardenborough (ART), Zamparelli and Patrick Kujala (Marussia Manor Racing) which pegged Lynn's advantage over the field back to just 0.257s, but no one was able to actually better his benchmark lap before Lynn returned to action, hoping for a clear track while the majority of the field took their pit stops. Unfortunately Lynn's first flying lap attempt was thwarted by having to get around Kujala in the Parabolica and his second was ruined when Kirchhöfer exited pit lane and went into the first chicane right in front of him.
There were improved laps from Jenzer pair Ceccon and Matheo Tuscher, but it was Status GP's Nick Yelloly who finally toppled Lynn from the top of the timing screens with a lap of 1:38.536s with his team mate Richie Stanaway showing it was no fluke as he slotted into second place a tenth back. Eriksson then split the pair, and Bernstorff then injected himself into third place with his own flying lap.
Eriksson had one last flying lap opportunity and it was enough to put him on front with what would be the pole position time, with Zamparelli also improving to go into second place 0.308s further back, pushing Yelloly down to third ahead of Bernstorff, Stanaway and Lynn in sixth ahead of Arden's Robert Visoiu, with Kirchhöfer, Kujala and Dean Stoneman (Marussia Manor Racing) rounding out the top ten.
Lynn still had a chance to respond and reclaim the top spot he had held earlier, and it looked as though he was about to pick up a nice tow through Parabolica from Carmen Jorda (Koiranen GP) when there were suddenly waved yellows being shown through the final corner for ART's Alex Fontana going off into the gravel trap which meant that Lynn had no choice but to lift, leaving him having to settle for sixth place after all.
With Lynn's team mate Luis Sa Silva also going off into the gravel at Lesmo, it meant that no one was able to put in a last-gasp effort and the field was frozen as the chequered flag waved.
The 17-lap race 1 will get the green flag this afternoon at 5.20pm (4.20pm BST), with race 2 on Sunday morning at 9.25am (8.25am BST). In the meantime, GP2 action takes centre stage this afternoon with the 30-lap feature race 1 scheduled for 3.40pm (2.40pm BST) and the 21-lap sprint race 2 following on Sunday morning at 10.35am (9.35am BST). All four races will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports F1.
See full GP3 qualifying results from the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.