Matthieu Vaxiviere edged out Gustav Malja for the first pole position of the new Formula Renault 3.5 season with a last-gasp improvement in qualifying at Aragon.
The Lotus driver set his best effort of 1’41.446s mere seconds before the chequered flag to beat series newcomer Malja by just 25 thousandths of a second.
Vaxiviere had spent much of the opening half of the 30-minute session trading fastest times with Carlin’s Tom Dillmann, before Jazeman Jaafar seized provisional pole just before the entire field pitted for fresh tyres at the halfway stage.
When the action resumed for the final 10 minutes, Jaafar’s Fortec teammate Oliver Rowland leaped to the top of the timesheets, only to be deposed immediately by compatriot Dean Stoneman (DAMS) and then Malja (Strakka) with just two minutes to go.
The Swede nonetheless missed out on taking pole for his FR3.5 debut as a result of Vaxiviere’s last-ditch improvement.
Rowland made a late jump to third, just under two tenths shy of the pace, with Vaxiviere’s teammate Meindert van Buuren, Jaafar and Dillmann all lapping within three tenths of the poleman to fill the first three rows.
Stoneman wound up in seventh, three places ahead of teammate and McLaren junior Nyck de Vries, while Manor Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi will start from 13th in his first FR3.5 outing for Pons Racing.
|2||Gustav Malja||Strakka Racing||0.025|
|3||Oliver Rowland||Fortec Motorsports||0.182|
|4||Meindert van Buuren||Lotus||0.228|
|5||Jazeman Jaafar||Fortec Motorsports||0.246|
|8||Tio Ellinas||Strakka Racing||0.398|
|9||Nicholas Latifi||Arden Motorsport||0.475|
|10||Nyck de Vries||DAMS||0.595|
|13||Roberto Merhi||Pons Racing||1.025|
|14||Egor Orudzhev||Arden Motorsport||1.083|
|17||Roy Nissany||Tech 1 Racing||1.232|
|19||Philo Paz Armand||Pons Racing||1.519|
|20||Aurelien Panis||Tech 1 Racing||1.644|