Jules Bianchi put himself back in the hunt with a storming drive to pole position in this afternoon's qualify session in Barcelona, taking full advantage of the track conditions by being the first man onto the circuit and taking the top spot early in the session, ahead of Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird.
The Dutchman looked to have pole wrapped up on his second flying lap, but his French rival pipped him just seconds later with a lap of 1:30.369, a mere one tenth ahead of the men in P2 and P3, while their rivals struggled to match the times as the clock ticked down.
Fabio Leimer slowed his rivals down on the first flying lap as he crawled around the first sector before leaving the circuit at turn six, the unfortunate victim of some type of gremlin: Bianchi was on a good lap but had to back off after finding the resultant traffic, but his next trip around made up for lost time.
With so many cars on track at the same time there was little chance for improvement: Romain Grosjean looked to be close to setting the pace before pulling up in the final sector, and it wasn't long before most of the field were back in the pits, with Ocean Racing the only team to run an alternative plan, going out as they rivals came in.
Most of the field looked to be trying to hold on to a set of tires, but when a couple of cars went out late in the session the floodgates opened and most of grid were forced back out. There was effectively no change in the order, however, as Charles Pic, Grosjean, Davide Valsecchi, Dani Clos, Marcus Ericsson, Stefano Coletti and Luca Filippi will line up behind the top three on the grid tomorrow. With 12 drivers within a second of pole, and tires more critical than ever, the feature race promises more excitement than ever.
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