Liam Lawson qualified P8 in Russia overnight as Formula 2 returned to action.
Kiwi compatriot Marcus Armstrong narrowly missed out on a top-ten spot, qualifying 11th fastest.
Lawson was as high as fourth in the final spree of laps, but his tyres ran out of life for his last flying run.
He failed to better his previous best, and he dropped to eighth after the chequered flag.
The positive news is Lawson starts on the second row for tonight’s first reverse-grid sprint race.
Wet weather is forecasted for the race, which could throw a spanner in the works for all drivers.
Australia’s Oscar Piastri claimed his third pole position in a row, edging out Jehan Daruvala.
Armstrong was in 17th at the session’s halfway point before moving up to the fringes of the top ten with a late lap.
Tonight’s first race begins at 7.30 pm NZT.
Series organisers also announced overnight that next year’s F2 season will have a new weekend format for 2022.
The championship will have just two races per weekend: a sprint race that is a reverse of the top ten qualifiers and a feature race.
F2 will also reunite with Formula 3 from next season after the two categories race at different circuits this year.