Callum Ilott edged Lando Norris to claim pole position for the opening Hockenheim race in which the latter is likely to wrap up the Formula 3 European Championship title.
Having had to wait until the final round to be crowned after the dramatic finish to the last race at the Red Bull Ring, Norris needs to only finish eighth in the first of the weekend’s three races to put the title beyond doubt.
With half a minute of first qualifying remaining, Norris turned a 0.023-second deficit to Ilott at the top of the times into a 0.022s advantage.
Joel Eriksson then missed out on toppling Norris by only six thousandths of a second, before Ilott pulled out a 1m31.646s lap to take his ninth pole of the season by 0.159s.
Even if Norris fails to score in the first race, for him to be denied the title Maximilian Gunther needs to claim victory, but the German could only muster 12th place in qualifying.
Eriksson is only six points behind Gunther in their battle for second place in the championship and will line up third on the grid, ahead of Norris’ Carlin team-mates Jehan Daruvala and Ferdinand Habsburg.
Tadasuke Makino kept up his impressive recent form with sixth, only one thousandth of a second slower than Habsburg.
Makino’s Hitech team-mates Jake Hughes, Nikita Mazepin and Ralf Aron took eighth, ninth and 11th.
Pedro Piquet was seventh in his best showing since the Norisring.
Fellow Brazilian and series debutant Felipe Drugovich was the best of his Van Amersfoort team-mates in 14th, just ahead of Joey Mawson and Harrison Newey.
Drugovich’s fellow ADAC Formula 4 graduate Juri Vips finished up 21st and last.