The Prema Racing driver set the quickest time of 1m39.854s just ten minutes into the 30-minute qualifying session, taking his first ever pole in the series.
ART Grand Prix’s Christian Lundgaard was first out of the pits looking to improve on seventh place finish in this morning’s practice session.
Drugovich was quickest after the first runs, setting a 1m40.692s, with Verschoor in second just three-hundredths behind the leader.
Piastri was first to break the 1m40s barrier ten minutes into the session, setting a 1m39.854s to take the top spot almost half a second ahead of second-placed Dan Ticktum.
Returning after a change of tyres and with 12 minutes left on the clock, Lundgaard got out the garage first again as the rest of the field followed, with just a second separating the top 11.
With just two minutes to go, Shwartzman spun off at Stowe and into the gravel, ruining his chance to improve from seventh place and prompting a red flag, ending the session early.
That meant Prema teammate Piastri’s early session benchmark was good enough for pole position, as Zhou finished in second for UNI-Virtuosi, two-tenths behind the leader, with Richard Verschoor putting his MP Motorsport car in third for Sunday’s feature race.
Ticktum, who topped this morning’s practice session at his home round for Carlin, will start fourth, while Theo Pourchaire took fifth place in his ART Grand Prix car, having been confirmed fit to race after suffering a fractured arm in a collision in Baku.
UNI-Virtuosi driver Felipe Drugovich will start sixth, with Robert Shwartzman (Prema Racing) in seventh.
The top 10 of today’s qualifying session sets the grid for Saturday’s first sprint race, putting Lundgaard on pole, followed by Hitech Grand Prix’s Juri Vips in second and DAMS driver Roy Nissany in third. Drugovich will start fourth, with Pourchaire in fifth.
The grid for Saturday afternoon’s second sprint race is determined by reversing the results of the first sprint race.