See full GP2 qualifying times from Abu Dhabi
Stoffel Vandoorne clinched pole position for the last feature race of the 2014 GP2 season with a lap of 1:48.088s, which put him just under one tenth of a second faster than this year's series champion Jolyon Palmer who will start alongside him on the front row.
Vandoorne had first gone to the top of the times just over ten minutes into qualifying, having earlier been pipped by Palmer on his first flying lap. The pair held the top two spots through the mid-session lull when drivers came back to pit road to fine-tune their set-ups, but were then swiftly displaced as a flurry of new fast times were posted in the final minutes.
Palmer's DAMS team mate Stephane Richelmi briefly went top, before Palmer himself took back control with a lap of 1:48.187s. However Vandoorne responded almost immediately and his next laptime in the ART was 0.099s faster as he went purple in both the final two sectors to set what proved to be the best time of the session, thereby confirming himself in pole position for the fourth time in a row ahead of Saturday's 31-lap feature race.
Qualifying had taken place under the floodlights long after the sun had fully set, lending an electric atmosphere to the Yas Marina Circuit as the cars streamed out of pit lane through the unique 'underpass' exit onto the track for the final 30-minute qualifying session of the year.
Johnny Cecotto Jr. had led the field out onto the track, but he ran wide at the start of his first flying lap attempt and was obliged to back off and let Richelmi and Carlin's Felipe Nasr through to set the first competitive times of the session, before they were ousted in turn by Palmer and Vandoorne.
Even as Vandoorne improved to claim the provisional pole, Nasr had found himself pushed down the running order to tenth place as Stefano Coletti (Racing Engineering), Mitch Evans (Russian Time), Caterham pair Rio Haryanto and Pierre Gasly and Campos Racing team mates Kimiya Sato and Arthur Pic ahead of the mid-session break.
Even so, Nasr could take heart from the knowledge that he was less than nine tenths of a second behind Vandoorne, the man he is competing against for the runners-up position in this year's championship behind Palmer who already clinched the title itself last time out at Sochi. Sure enough, Nasr was able to improve his time to 1:48.873s in his final run as the chequered flag came out, which put him back up to fifth place just behind Evans who had managed to hold on to his second row spot alongside Richelmi.
Behind Nasr, another impressive performance from Gasly saw the young Frenchman clinch sixth place on the grid, while his team mate Pic held on to seventh place on the timesheets just ahead of Racing Engineering's Raffaele Marciello. However Marciello will actually start tomorrow's race from 13th place because of a five-place grid penalty he picked up last month at Sochi for causing a collision with Palmer at turn 1 on the opening lap of the Sunday sprint race.
That means Marciello's team mate Coletti will be promoted to eighth place on the grid, with Haryanto and Carlin's Julian Leal set to round out the top ten. Cecotto ended up just missing out and ended the session in 11th place, with Vandoorne's Takuya Izawa posting a late improvement to put himself into 12th for the start of the feature race.
In his first-ever GP2 qualifying session, Nicholas Latifi ended up a creditable 18th place after taking over the #11 Hilmer Motorsport car from Daniel Abt, who is in Malaysia this weekend competing in the Formula E Series. He finished two spots ahead of Conor Daly, who is back in the #25 Venezuela GP Lazarus seat after missing two outings at Monza and Sochi.
Kevin Giovesi, returning to the GP2 Series for the first time since Monaco in 2013, was 25th fastest after taking over the #14 Rapax car from Adrian Quaife-Hobbs for this weekend's event. Quiafe-Hobbs also missed the round at Sochi with a neck injury, where he was deputised by Tio Ellinas. Giovesi finished just ahead of Artem Markelov, who ran wide on one of his early flying laps and was lucky to keep his Russian Time car out of the wall.
Like qualifying, Saturday's feature race will take place after dark at 6.40pm (2.40pm GMT), the first feeder series race ever to be staged under floodlights. Sunday's 22-lap sprint race will be held in the daylight, starting at 2.20pm (10.20am GMT).
The GP3 season finale is also taking place at Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the first 14-lap race getting underway on Saturday afternoon at 12.05pm (8.05am GMT). The final GP3 race of the year will be on Sunday at 1pm (9am GMT).
See full GP2 qualifying times from Abu Dhabi