Sergey Afanasiev put it all together on his final hot lap in Oschersleben today, setting a time of 1:20.376 with the clock running out to claim his first career Formula Two pole position by nearly a tenth of a second.
Afanasiev, running on a set of old tires, was hoping to get a tow from Dean Stoneman who was in front of him on the track, but when Stoneman turned out not to have the pace -- he eventually qualified fifth, four tenths off the pace -- the young Russian slipped by and struck out on his own.
"I had some pace when Stoneman arrived on the circuit in front of me, and at first I thought that he would go really fast and I would try to follow him," the 22-year-old recalled. "Then I understood I was sulking behind him, and I decided to do my own laps and I cooled off for one lap and then, finito!"
That lap knocked off the provisional polesitter, Kazim Vasiliauskas, and the Lithuanian didn't have enough speed left to respond. Having set a time of 1:20.463 on new tires, he could not find any more grip after Afanasiev's pole time, and had to settle for the second grid position.
"I thought I'd done enough for P1," he explained. "After that I slowed down for one lap and then I tried to push, but the tyres didn't work so well and I couldn't finish P1."
Still, it was two tenths better than the third-placed Nicola de Marco, who found some extra speed after struggling in the practice session. Benjamin Bailly followd close behind, only 0.026 second off de Marco's time, but had to settle for fourth.
Of the championship contenders, Dean Stoneman holds the advantage going into tomorrow's first race of the weekend; the Briton set a time of 1:20.784, eight hundredths slower than Bailly, to take fifth place.
Championship leader Jolyon Palmer -- only four points in front of Stoneman was 0.132 seconds slower than Stoneman, and will have to start from eighth position, behind not only Stoneman but also Will Bratt and Jack Clarke.