Charles Pic claimed pole position for tomorrow's feature race at the Nurburgring with a late surge against the run of play in this afternoon's qualifying session: the Frenchman found time on his second set of tires while his rivals struggled to squeeze his Addax car past Luca Filippi and Romain Grosjean for the top spot.
The Frenchman's best time of 1:40.317 was set with four minutes remaining: Pic's pole came by just 0.076 seconds as he left his rivals floundering in traffic as they tried in vain to better his time before the clock ran out.
Pic was the first man to set a competitive lap, but in short order Sam Bird and then Grosjean bettered his time, the latter driver doing so despite running wide through the gravel at the chicane on his hot lap. Traffic was playing havoc with a number of driver's best efforts though, as Filippi looked set for the top spot with purple sectors 1 and 2 before slowing in the final sector, and Giedo van der Garde losing time similarly.
With most of the field returning to the pits for fresh tires halfway through the session the Italian took a gamble and stayed out for one more lap, squeezing by Grosjean for the top spot by just 0.011 seconds to the delight of the pitwall at his new team Coloni: it meant that the Italian would have less laps on the second set, but it seemed to be a gamble worth taking.
And so it was, until Pic squeezed onto pole with four minutes remaining: Filippi improved his time next time round, but not by enough, while Grosjean and the others tripped over each other until the checkered flag was shown. Behind the top 3 were Jules Bianchi, van der Garde, Fabio Leimer, Alvaro Parente, Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson and Luiz Razia. But with 17 drivers within a second of pole, tomorrow's race has all the makings of a classic.
Nurburgring – Qualifying Session
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:40.317 12
2. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 1:40.393 11
3. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:40.431 13
4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:40.755 13
5. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:40.781 13
6. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:40.794 15
7. Alvaro Parente Carlin 1:40.803 14
8. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:40.817 13
9. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:40.859 12
10. Luiz Razia Caterham Team AirAsia 1:40.968 14
11. Sam Bird iSport International 1:40.970 12
12. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:40.998 12
13. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:41.059 12
14. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:41.101 12
15. Adam Carroll Super Nova Racing 1:41.141 12
16. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:41.166 13
17. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:41.268 13
18. Davide Valsecchi Caterham Team AirAsia 1:41.354 11
19 Josef Kral Arden International 1:41.356 12
20. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:41.489 14
21. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:41.489 14
22. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:41.594 13
23. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:41.633 13
24. Julian Leal Rapax 1:41.894 15
25. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:41.966 15
26. Max Chilton Carlin 1:42.783 9