American driver Alexander Rossi claimed the second pole position of his GP2 Series career in qualifying for the Monaco feature race on Thursday with a supreme display of wet-weather driving.
The Racing Engineering driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.019 to claim pole position by six-tenths of a second over Arthur Pic, having set the pace throughout the second part of qualifying in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.
In order to avoid congestion out on track, the GP2 qualifying session was split into two groups of 13 drivers. Group A had the worst of the weather conditions following heavy rainfall during Formula 1 practice, but Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello made the most of it to top the timesheets by seven-tenths of a second.
With the track drying out for Group B, the advantage was given to the later runners, but it was Rossi who dominated from start to finish. The American driver produced personal best after personal best, continually making the pole position time harder and harder to beat as he tamed the damp track perfectly.
“I think to say I was stressed when I went out is a bit of an understatement,” Rossi said after the session. “Obviously everyone is on the same boat. We were quite pleased with our pace in free practice, but that kind of becomes irrelevant.
“The rain was not what I was hoping for, but from the out-lap, the car felt quite good in spite of the little mistake I made on turn five. It was a very smooth session. It just kept coming better and better.
“I think the track was drying. That was helping me out as well. The session went by quite quick, but towards the end when I knew we were in a good position, I wanted it to finish quickly!”
To avoid putting the Group A runners at too much of a disadvantage, the 13 drivers in this group will take the even-numbered grid slots of the feature race on Friday. As a result, Marciello will start alongside Rossi on the front row of the grid despite his time being only good enough for P12 in Group B.
Starting behind Rossi will be Campos driver Arthur Pic, whilst championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne saw his streak of consecutive poles end at six in Monaco. He will start tomorrow’s feature race from fourth place on the grid.