Palmer storms to pole in Monza
Jolyon Palmer captured his second pole of the season after recording a storming late lap around the legendary Monza circuit.
Palmer's effort eclipsed Johan Jokinen by just 0.074s in what was an incredibly close session, with the top 16 covered by less than one second. Jokinen had looked on course for a maiden F2 pole but was forced to settle for second, narrowly ahead of Romania's Mihai Marinescu.
Pole position for Palmer will add extra spice to the championship race, as lead duo Philipp Eng and Dean Stoneman could only manage eleventh and eighth respectively.
"It's good for the championship," said Palmer. "Obviously I didn't have such a great points scoring round in Marrakech and they (Eng and Stoneman) were really on form, so it's nice that they're not here and I'm on pole. It should hopefully give me a good boost for the championship after this round."
Kazim Vasiliauskas was close to scoring his first top three grid slot of the campaign, but the Lithuanian had to settle for a place on the outside of row two after being squeezed out late on. Nicola De Marco equaled his best qualifying result of the season with fifth as the Italian continued to show good form at his home circuit.
Ricardo Teixeira bounced back impressively from his massive Marrakech accident to put in one of the best qualifying performances of his career - the Angolan took sixth ahead of Armaan Ebrahim and Dean Stoneman.
British duo Jack Clarke and Will Bratt were separated by just 0.014s in ninth and tenth respectively. Bratt was the first driver to set a time on new rubber in the final 15 minutes and the 22-year-old briefly held third. With his tires seemingly past their best however while other drivers' were in their prime, Bratt dropped to tenth in the latter stages. Just six tenths of a second covered the top ten in what turned out to be the closest qualifying session of the season.
A disappointed championship leader Philipp Eng will only line up on the sixth row of the grid for the weekend's opening race. Although there seemed to be no immediate reason for Eng's lack of pace, it is worth remembering that he was still only 0.660s off Palmer's pole time. With a 19 point lead over Stoneman in the standings and a further eight point advantage over Palmer, Eng will surely be one to watch tomorrow as he tries to carve his way through the order.
1. Jolyon Palmer, 1:41.722s
2. Johan Jokinen, +0.074s
3. Mihai Marinescu, +0.188s
4. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +0.232s
5. Nicola De Marco, +0.357s
6. Ricardo Teixeira, +0.429s
7. Armaan Ebrahim, +0.470s
8. Dean Stoneman, +0.553s
9. Jack Clarke, +0.626s
10. Will Bratt, +0.640s