Max Chilton brushed off the pressure of being announced as Reserve Driver for the Marussia F1 Team yesterday, by qualifying on the front row in Singapore this evening, ahead of the 2012 GP2 finale. The Marussia Carlin GP2 driver was involved in a close battle with GP2 veteran Luca Filippi, until a red flag prematurely ended the session while Chilton was P2. Team mate Haryanto was left disappointed after a promising practice session earlier today, with the curtailed qualifying session leaving him in 16th place.

This morning’s free practice session was a wet affair following a torrential storm leaving large amounts of standing water on track. As the drivers took to the track, it was a new experience for the majority of them, with only Haryanto and DAMS’ Felipe Nasr having previous experience of the Singapore street circuit.

Haryanto wasted no time in showing his pace and was amongst the front runners for the duration of the session. Despite the adverse weather hampering test programmes, Haryanto was able to set the eighth quickest time, while Chilton was 22nd.

The GP2 drivers returned to a dry track later in the day, for their first racing experience under floodlights as the light faded over Singapore. Chilton and Haryanto were amongst the first cars to hit the track as the 30 minute qualifying session got underway.

Both Carlin men were in the top ten in the early stages, with Chilton’s first lap putting him third, before the times started to fall, dropping him down the order. Haryanto was also inside the top ten in the first half of the session, until several drivers improved just before the half way point.

As the drivers entered the pits for some last minute tweaks and new tyres, Chilton and Haryanto were fifth and 14th quickest respectively.

With just over eight minutes left on the clock, both Carlin men were back out on track, having made the change to new Super Soft tyres. As fellow Brit Jolyon Palmer went quickest, Chilton set his best first second followed by a purple middle sector. The Marussia F1 Team Reserve Driver completed his lap to take provisional pole a full 0.6 seconds quicker than Palmer.

With just under two minutes remaining, Luca Filippi managed to go just 0.052 seconds quicker to steal the top spot. Chilton was pushing hard though, and went quicker again at the start of his next lap, but the 21 year-old was unable to improve after a red flag brought the session to an early conclusion following an accident for Nigel Melker. Team mate Haryanto was hurt more though, the Indonesian was on a much better lap when the session was brought to a premature end. With one and a half minutes left on the clock, Chilton had secured an impressive front row start in second, while Haryanto was 16th.

Reflecting on his session, Chilton said, “I was really pleased when it stayed dry for our qualifying session after practice this morning, and I knew we could do it. The tyres felt good in the first half of the session and I was fifth quickest and not far off. There were a few drivers who were quicker on the Prime tyre, but my engineer said to stick with one we’d planned on the Option tyre, and that was the right choice because the car just felt fantastic in the second half of the session. I managed to get a good lap together and took pole, and then the next time round I was improving again and was up by a tenth of a second just before the red flag came out. When my engineer told me I was P2 it felt like I was 20th, I was so disappointed not to get pole, but the front row is still a good place to start. I’m really excited about the race tomorrow, although I think it’s going to be a really tough one and hard on the tyres. This circuit is amazing, and it’s an incredible feeling to race under the flood lights.”