McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne survived a flurry of late improvements by his rivals in a frantic qualifying session to take pole position for his home GP2 round at Spa.
The Belgian proved the driver to beat during the initial runs, his first flying lap of 1m56.518s putting him a comfortable four tenths faster than his closest rival, Oliver Rowland.
Vandoorne then took advantage of a clear track in the traditional mid-session lull - a tactic used to great effect at Hungary by Alex Lynn - to lower the benchmark by another 0.240s with a searing effort of 1m56.278s before heading back to the pits.
The championship leader then faced a nervous wait as his rivals tried to dislodge him from the top spot in the final five minutes, but nobody was able to beat Vandoorne's time, the ART driver securing a fourth pole of the season.
It was Rowland once more who provided the sternest challenge, the Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader taking a front row spot in only his second GP2 weekend with a time 0.147s adrift of Vandoorne.
That demoted Sergey Sirotkin to third place, 0.235s off the pace, ahead of Jordan King and Hungary sprint race winner Nobuharu Matsushita.
Second in practice, Mitch Evans could do no better than sixth in qualifying, two thousandths slower than Matsushita, ahead of Pierre Gasly and Alexander Rossi.
Hungary polesitter Lynn was visibly frustrated to only qualify ninth, seven tenths off the pace, while Norman Nato completed the top 10.
|1||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||1'56.278|
|2||Oliver Rowland||MP Motorsport||1'56.425||0.147|
|4||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||1'56.625||0.347|
|5||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||1'56.659||0.381|
|6||Mitch Evans||RUSSIAN TIME||1'56.661||0.383|
|8||Alexander Rossi||Racing Engineering||1'56.845||0.567|
|10||Norman Nato||Arden International||1'57.019||0.741|
|11||Rio Haryanto||Campos Racing||1'57.143||0.865|
|14||Arthur Pic||Campos Racing||1'57.275||0.997|
|15||Nick Yelloly||Hilmer Motorsport||1'57.328||1.050|
|17||Richie Stanaway||Status Grand Prix||1'57.528||1.250|
|18||Sergio Canamasas||Daiko Team Lazarus||1'57.560||1.282|
|19||Nathanael Berthon||Daiko Team Lazarus||1'57.615||1.337|
|20||Andre Negrao||Arden International||1'57.661||1.383|
|21||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||1'57.746||1.468|
|22||Artem Markelov||RUSSIAN TIME||1'57.809||1.531|
|23||Marlon Stockinger||Status Grand Prix||1'58.136||1.858|