Bruno Senna took pole position in the most dramatic way possible this afternoon in Magny-Cours by crossing the line a fraction of a second before hitting the wall heavily after bouncing over the curbs in the final complex, claiming the top spot fractionally ahead of Romain Grosjean and Giorgio Pantano.
The Brazilian's final lap time of 1:22.250 was just 0.037 ahead of Grosjean, who in turn beat the Italian by just 0.014 in one of the most frantic qualifying sessions ever seen in the series. The top three drivers alternated at the top of the timesheets throughout a scorching hot session: with temperatures soaring compared to this morning's free practice there was little to separate most of the drivers, seventeen of whom ultimately lapped within a second of the eventual pole time.
The biggest problem for most of the drivers was traffic: Ho-pin Tung, Alvaro Parente and Luca Filippi all spun on track but continued, and with so many drivers on the short circuit at the same time getting a clear lap was almost impossible before the stop for fresh tires. The three way battle at the front continued until the 25th minute, when Senna's heavy shunt brought out the red flags.
With temperatures in the pits going through the roof the track finally cleared and Lucas di Grassi was the first man on track to take advantage, but when Jerome D'Ambrosio lost his rear and ended up in the gravel trap the resultant yellow flags put paid to anyone else's dreams of improvement.
Behind the top three Andreas Zuber, Sébastien Buemi, di Grassi, Kamui Kobayashi Vitaly Petrov, Pastor Maldonado and Karun Chandhok were left ruing missed opportunities, but they will all be hoping for better things to come in race one tomorrow afternoon.
Senna had spun at the same place in free practice this morning, and must have concluded that the fastest way to finish the lap was by nailing the throttle after jumping the curbs - just like his uncle Ayrton did in qualifying here in 1991, spinning across the finish line.
Senna has now left his iSport crew with rebuilding the car overnight.
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