GP2 pre-season favorite Stoffel Vandoorne dominated the opening qualifying of the season, leading an ART 1-2 at Sakhir.
The Belgian seemed in a league of his own on his way to a fifth consecutive pole position – a series record.
Just a tenth clear after the first round of laps, Vandoorne ramped up the pace in the second half of the session, putting himself out of reach with three minutes to go.
Rookies Alex Lynn and Jordan King, as well as sophomore Arthur Pic, all looked like good shouts for runner-up during the session, but were stunned by Japanese F3 champion Nobuharu Matshushita, who will join teammate Vandoorne on front row.
GP3 title holder Lynn qualified third with Pic alongside, while Raffaele Marciello overcame a troubled start to the session to claim fifth. The Italian appeared stuck in gear on his first run and had to crawl back to the pitlane, but was quickly back up to pace in the final minutes of qualifying.
Racing Engineering’s practice-topping duo of Jordan King and Alexander Rossi took sixth and eighth respectively, split by Arden signing Norman Nato. Formula Renault 3.5 graduates Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin completed the top ten.
|1||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||1:39.237||11|
|2||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||1:39.545||0.308||11|
|4||Arthur Pic||Campos Racing||1:39.630||0.393||11|
|6||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||1:39.770||0.533||11|
|7||Norman Nato||Arden International||1:39.857||0.620||11|
|8||Alexander Rossi||Racing Engineering||1:39.872||0.635||12|
|11||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:39.955||0.718||11|
|12||Rio Haryanto||Campos Racing||1:39.961||0.724||10|
|13||Mitch Evans||Russian Time||1:39.999||0.762||11|
|15||Richie Stanaway||Status Grand Prix||1:40.251||1.014||11|
|17||Sergio Canamasas||MP Motorsport||1:40.434||1.197||12|
|19||Andre Negrao||Arden International||1:40.634||1.397||11|
|20||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||1:40.653||1.416||11|
|23||Marlon Stockinger||Status Grand Prix||1:40.995||1.758||11|