DAMS driver Alex Lynn narrowly beat Stoffel Vandoorne to claim pole in a close GP2 qualifying at Sochi.
Sochi marked Lynn's second pole of the season, the Brit having won from the head of the field at the Hungaroring – and scored only three points since then.
With no drying line to speak of on the wet Sochi track after a rather quiet FP2 in Formula 1, each lap by the GP2 cars seemed to find extra pace early in the session.
Rossi and the DAMS duo of Lynn and Pierre Gasly were among the drivers who lowered the benchmark early on, but it was Arthur Pic in the lead at the halfway mark. Practice pacesetter Vandoorne then took the top spot over before most of the field elected to pit.
With the track largely clear – if still very damp – in the next few minutes, Status's Richie Stanaway went to the head of the timesheets.
With six minutes to go, Gasly and Lynn took half a second off the existing benchmark to go first and second for DAMS. The pair were demoted by Vandoorne and Rossi, before Lynn went quickest, hanging on to first place until the chequered flag.
With the time running out, Vandoorne was held up behind Marlon Stockinger and had to back off in the final sector. As a result, the champion-elect slowed too much and ever-so-narrowly missed out on a final flying lap, ending up 0.038s short of Lynn.
And with Rossi failing to improve on his final lap, it meant Lynn was secure at the top of the timesheets.
Gasly was fourth, ahead of Pic and Johnny Cecotto, who recorded his best qualifying performance of the season.
Raffaele Marciello, Stanaway, Norman Nato and local racer Sergey Sirotkin made up the top ten.
Newcomer Dean Stoneman was 19th again, 2.25s off the best time.
|2||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||2'01.878||0.038|
|3||Alexander Rossi||Racing Engineering||2'02.141||0.301|
|5||Arthur Pic||Campos Racing||2'02.450||0.610|
|8||Richie Stanaway||Status Grand Prix||2'02.998||1.158|
|9||Norman Nato||Arden International||2'03.133||1.293|
|11||Andre Negrao||Arden International||2'03.382||1.542|
|12||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||2'03.519||1.679|
|13||Rio Haryanto||Campos Racing||2'03.523||1.683|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||MP Motorsport||2'03.731||1.891|
|15||Marlon Stockinger||Status Grand Prix||2'03.751||1.911|
|16||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||2'04.004||2.164|
|17||Mitch Evans||Russian Time||2'04.072||2.232|
|19*||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||2'03.622||1.782|
|20||Nathanael Berthon||Daiko Team Lazarus||2'04.658||2.818|
|21||Rene Binder||MP Motorsport||2'04.994||3.154|
|22||Sergio Canamasas||Daiko Team Lazarus||2'04.998||3.158|
* - 5-place penalty
** - pitlane start