Giorgio Pantano took a giant leap towards wrapping up the GP2 series title by qualifying on pole in Monza while main rival Bruno Senna could only manage 12th.
Pantano gained two bonus points for securing pole and now leads Senna by 13 points with just the two Monza races remaining in the championship. Lucas di Grassi is seven points behind Senna.
The Racing Engineering driver discounted the idea he might be home and dry for the title: “It’s not a done job yet. Two points for pole is always good, and I’m a bit more relaxed to see Bruno in P12, but anything can happen and it will be tough if it rains tomorrow.”
Both di Grassi and Romain Grosjean lost their last slim chances of the title when Pantano took the points for pole.
Briton Mike Conway could only qualify in 16th for Trident Racing as the Italian team returned to its roots. Managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi said: “We’re really excited as we’re getting close to our home Grand Prix.
“Trident Racing will be fielding our regular duo of Mike Conway and Ho Pin Tung, with a clear goal of ending up on the podium in one of the two races of the weekend.
“The target is clearly in our frame, and I hope we’ll be able to reach it with intelligent and profitable driving by our two drivers and without having to count on casualties and mistakes on our rivals’ side.”