The 30 minute morning practice session began under grey skies with a chance of rain but the track temperature was high at 41°.
Most of the GP2 drivers took to the track at the start of the session in order to set a time in case the rain arrived and within five minutes some light rain began to fall but not enough to make the track slippery.
Almost immediately Fabio Leimer, on just his second lap, was fastest with a 1m 42.369s lap on the harder Pirelli compound and two laps later the young Swiss reduced his time to 1m 41.361s.
Julián Leal also used the 30 minute session to work on the setup of his Racing Engineering Dallara and he finished the 30 minutes in 15th with a best lap of 1m 43.156s, less than 0.6 seconds slower than the 3rd fastest time. It was dry with the track temperature once again at 41° for the start of the 30 minute qualifying session and the Racing Engineering drivers were now using the soft Option Pirelli tyres.
With 8 minutes of the session gone Fabio, on his first flying lap, went fastest with a 1m 40.044s, the fastest lap ever seen by a GP2 car on the Sakhir circuit. Fabio continued to fly and although his next flying lap was a little slower it was still the second fastest time set so far.
With half the session completed the majority of the cars, including both Racing Engineering drivers, return to the pits for adjustments before making a final effort to improve their times.
With just over 6 minutes to go Fabio was back on the circuit in case any of the other drivers could improve on his fastest time and as Ericsson began to lap quickly Fabio immediately put pole position beyond all doubt with a time of 1m 39.427s almost a full second faster than the Swede in second spot.
Julián’s first fast lap, a 1m 41.669s, saw him take the 16th fastest time, just 0.7 seconds away from a place in the top ten. With 10 minutes remaining Julián returned to the track and, although he improved his time to 1m 41.504s, it left him 19th on the grid.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "A great result today for Fabio with this dominant pole position. He's been quick in free practice and qualifying and showed a very strong pace throughout both sessions.
It was a great job also from the team to give him such a good car allowing him this convincing performance. Obviously a disappointing result for Julian, he and the team know where he can improve and together we will work on it.
We will do all we can to help him for tomorrow's race to make up as many positions as possible."
Fabio Leimer: "Today was really good for me. We were already quick in free practice, so we knew we could also be quick in qualifying.
I had already set a good lap time on my first outing in qualifying, taking P1 ahead of Ericsson and then Ericsson and Nasr went out again, so it was a bit of a gamble.
We made the decision to go out, but only pushed for one lap. Overall I think it was a good lap, almost perfect as I did encounter a little bit of traffic but I don't think I lost much time there.
We are quite happy, the car is really good and I did a good lap, so we are looking forward to tomorrow. I hope for a good start, as then I will be able to drive our own race."
Julián Leal: "I think I made some mistakes on my first as well as my second set of tyres. On the first set I was not pushing enough and with the second set I tried to correct some of the mistakes I made before.
While, in the beginning of the session, I was braking too early into turn 1, I didn't change the braking balance correctly and destroyed my tyres by locking them. Because of this I wasn't able to improve my lap time by a lot and it was difficult to achieve more.
Tomorrow will be a long race and we have to try everything. Starting from this position I have to aim for the top 8. This won't be easy to achieve, but I have to try to overtake lots of cars and do a good job tomorrow."