Fabio Leimer claimed pole position for the Feature race in Bahrain, setting a time almost a second quicker than his nearest rival.
The Swiss driver set a time of 1:39.427, 0.993s quicker than Marcus Ericsson.
Felipe Nasr was third, with championship leader Stefano Coletti finishing in fourth place.
Tom Dillmann was fifth, ahead of Stephane Richelmi.
Alexander Rossi, making his Caterham debut, set an impressive seventh fastest time. Adrian Quaife Hobbs was eighth, ahead of Sam Bird.
Reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, Robin Frijns, rounded out the top 10 on his debut.
Britain's James Calado set the eleventh fastest time but will drop 10 places for causing an accident at the start of the sprint race in Malaysia.