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ART Grand Prix pairing Jules Bianchi and Sam Bird have headed the timesheets in GP2 qualifying at Monza and will therefore start Saturday's Feature Race from the head of the grid. Behind, the DAMS of Jérôme d'Ambrosio and iSport of Oliver Turvey make up the second row spots after Champion elect Pastor Maldonado became stuck in the Rettifilo gravel trap.
Frenchman Bianchi set his best time of 1:30.269 when conditions were at their best: the session opening under hot conditions following the second F1 practice, with plenty of their rubber on track allowing the field to set scorching times right from the start.
Álvaro Parente was the first man to set a competitive time, but almost instantly the times tumbled as d'Ambrosio, Romain Grosjean, Oliver Turvey, Bird and series contenders Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Pérez all claimed a moment or two on the top spot before Bianchi made it his own just 8 minutes in.
Pérez was the first man back into the pits (and the first on the weighbridge) with the rest of the field bar Maldonado coming in for fresh tyres; this is generally the time the Venezuelan sets provisional pole throughout the season but his regular trick didn't work, and he was soon in for tyres and a weight check too.
When the field came back out the series leader continued to struggle to keep his car on track: he missed the apex at the first chicane and then rode the kerbs all the way into the gravel at the same spot next time round.
When his team-mate Luiz Razia simultaneously spun at Ascari the red flags were out in a flash. Giedo van der Garde was the first man back out on track, but also the first back into the pits, unable to replicate this morning's form, while Bianchi was the last man out and cruising round, just in case.
With so little time remaining, and the best track conditions long gone, no one was able to materially improve, with Turvey, Parente, Grosjean, Pérez and Maldonado lining up behind the top three in a session that saw the top 18 drivers within a second of pole.
- Full qualifying results
Saturday's Feature Race in Italy will begin at 3:55pm local time (BST +1)
ART Grand Prix
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|24 Mar||Calado penalised for causing crash|
|19 Dec '12||Abt graduates to GP2 with Lotus GP|
|11 Dec '12||Lotus GP retains Calado for 2013 campaign|
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|13 Sep '10||'We have a lot of interest' – Maldonado on F1 chances|
|13 Sep '10||Interview with new GP2 Champion Pastor Maldonado|
|12 Sep '10||Latest GP2 photos: Sunday at Monza|
|12 Sep '10||Maldonado Champion as Vietoris takes maiden win|
|12 May||Five drivers for Canada FOTA Fans' Forum|
|26 Mar||Video: Marussia drivers play Jenga|
|18 Mar||Marussia debutants buoyed by performance|
|11 Mar||Overview: Presenting the 2013 Formula 1 grid|
|29 May||GP2 to broadcast team radio from Silverstone|
|25 May||Latest GP2 photos: Saturday in Monaco|
|25 May||Coletti wins on home soil to extend lead|
|24 May||Cecotto Jr. suspended from Sprint Race|
|More Jules Bianchi photos|