Friday morning practice had promised a close battle for pole position for this weekend's GP2 Series feature race, and qualifying duly delivered despite a lengthy red flag for two early near-simultaneous incidents at the Parabolica interrupting proceedings.

Even though Friday mid-afternoon temperatures were by now exceeding even those experienced during the earlier practice, there was no stopping the GP2 drivers queuing up in pit lane for several minutes before the green light signalled the start of the 30-minute qualifying session. Rapax's Simon Trummer took point as usual with his first warm-up lap clocking in at 1:38.011s, but that was some six seconds slower than the morning session and it was no surprised when the next lap around saw drivers start to lay down the true times, Carlin's Jolyon Palmer's posting a lap of 1:31.961s which was the fastest time of the day putting him ahead of MP Motorsport's Dani Clos, ART's James Calado and Russian Time duo Tom Dillmann and Sam Bird, with Fabio Leimer in sixth place for Racing Engineering and just 0.35s off provisional pole.

Qualifying runs were then frustrated when Sergio Canamasas spun off in the Caterham for the second time on Friday, this time in the entry to the Parabolica just under ten minutes into the session; seconds later Vittorio Ghirelli allowed the the left side tyres of the Venezuela GP Lazarus to stay off the asphalt at the exit of Parabolica onto the main straight, which spun the #25 and left Ghirelli beached in the gravel trap.

With no one able to improve their lap times while track officials worked under local waved yellows to remove both stricken cars, the drivers returned for an earlier-than-expected mid-session visit to pit lane for fresh tyres and set-up tweaks. When the clean-up of the gravel scattered onto the tarmac started to drag on, race control made that hiatus official by throwing a red flag that stopped the clock for the duration. That left 14 minutes remaining when the track went green again, and the top six didn't join the immediate rush back out of pit lane but instead bided their time for a few minutes before making a move by which point the track was feeling very crowded, with drivers struggling to find space to put in flying laps without falling over slower traffic.

Championship leader Stefano Coletti was first to make in-roads into the running order as he leapt into second spot with a time of 1:31.993s, and then seconds later it was Fabio Leimer's turn to shine as he punched out a new candidate lap for pole position as he beat Palmer's previous benchmark by two hundredths of a second. That didn't last long at the top of the timesheets before Sam Bird flew to the top with a new target time of 1:31.788s.

That spurt of improved times - which also saw DAMS' Marcus Ericsson move up to fourth place and Dillmann climb back into fifth ahead of Coletti who had been pushed down to sixth place - proved the best spell of qualifying, after which no one was able to make an impression on the top times. Palmer tried his best to wrest back pole - or at least a front row spot - by throwing everything into his final flying lap but he was betrayed by a small slide at Ascari that left him unable to improve on his earlier time; and while Marcus Ericsson's final lap after the chequered flag was without notable incident it was still shy of his earlier effort and proved that the tyres had simply nothing more left to give that hadn't been wrung out of them already.

It had proved an incredibly close session as a whole, with less than four tenths of a second covering the top eleven cars and less than a second separating pole position from 22nd place man Daniel de Jong in the MP Motorsports #27. The Dutch driver finished just ahead of Sergio Campana who will line up on the feature race grid in 23rd place in his GP2 d?but this weekend in the Trident #21 in place of Ricardo Teixeira. Despite their early exits from the session, Ghirelli and Canamasas both made it within 107 per cent of Bird's pole time and will be allowed to make the start of the race, albeit from the back row of the grid.

Subsequently, Dani Clos lost his qualifying position of seventh on the grid because the #26 MP Motorsport failed to supply the correct amount of fuel for analysis. He will start from the back of the grid after his afternoon times were excluded. Additionally, Hlmer Motorsport's Jon Lancaster was handed a ten-place grid penalty for not respecting the yellow flags in the session and will now start alongside Clos on the back row.

Qualifying times

1. #11 Sam Bird Russian Time 1:31.788s 141.179mph (12 laps)
2. #8 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:31.822s 141.127mph + 0.034s (14 laps)
3. #10 Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1:31.843s 141.095mph + 0.055s (13 laps)
4. #1 Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1:31.915s 140.984mph + 0.127s (14 laps)
5. #12 Tom Dillmann Russian Time 1:31.949s 140.932mph + 0.161s (10 laps)
6. #18 Stefano Coletti Rapax 1:31.993s 140.864mph + 0.205s (15 laps)
7. #3 James Calado ART GP 1:32.033s 140.803mph + 0.245s (12 laps)
8. #16 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax 1:32.100s 140.701mph + 0.312s (12 laps)
9. #19 Simon Trummer Rapax 1:32.164s 140.603mph + 0.376s (12 laps)
10. #2 St?phane Richelmi DAMS 1:32.168s 140.597mph + 0.380s (12 laps)
11. #9 Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:32.381s 140.273mph + 0.593s (13 laps)
12. #17 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax 1:32.384s 140.268mph + 0.596s (13 laps)
13. #7 Juli?n Leal Racing Engineering 1:32.398s 140.247mph + 0.610s (15 laps)
14. #15 Alexander Rossi EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:32.447s 140.173mph + 0.659s (14 laps)
15. #22 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Hilmer Motorsport 1:32.462s 140.150mph + 0.674s (13 laps)
16. #6 Mitch Evans Arden 1:32.481s 140.121mph + 0.693s (12 laps)
17. #20 Nathana?l Berthon Trident Racing 1:32.554s 140.010mph + 0.766s (13 laps)
18. #4 Daniel Abt ART GP 1:32.627s 139.900mph + 0.839s (12 laps)
19. #5 Johnny Cecotto Jr. Arden 1:32.650s 139.866mph + 0.862s (12 laps)
20. #27 Dani?l de Jong MP Motorsport 1:32.751s 139.713mph + 0.963s (10 laps)
21. #21 Sergio Campana Trident Racing 1:33.195s 139.047mph + 1.407s (14 laps)
22. #24 Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:33.292s 138.903mph + 1.504s (14 laps)
23. #25 Vittorio Ghirelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:33.405s 138.735mph + 1.617s (5 laps)
24. #14 Sergio Canamasas EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:34.963s 136.459mph + 3.175s (3 laps)
25. #23 Jon Lancaster * Hilmer Motorsport 1:32.482s 140.120mph + 0.694s (13 laps)
26. #26 Dani Clos ** MP Motorsport Times excluded (11 laps)

Total Laps: 313 107% time: 1.38.213s * 10-place grid penalty for ignoring waved yellow flags during the session ** Times excluded for failing to supply the correct amount of fuel for analysis