Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi edged out Harrison Newey to claim a crucial pole for the first race of the MRF Challenge finale at Chennai.
Fititipaldi was challenged all through the session by Newey, the British driver ending up 0.003s shy of the Brazilian's benchmark of 1m34.038s.
Newcomer Mick Schumacher was all set to qualify third, before Indian Tarun Reddy bettered the German on his last flying lap by a mere 0.040s - demoting Schumacher to fourth.
Alessio Picariello rounded out the top five ahead of fellow title contenders Nikita Troitskiy and Tatiana Calderon.
Another MRF Challenge debutant, Aleksanteri Huovinen finished eighth while Max Fewtrell was ninth and Karthik Tharani 10th on home soil.