The majority of frontrunners went straight out on the softer medium 'option' tyre, to make use of the Formula 1 rubber from the preceding free practice session. This worked a treat for Valsecchi, whose DAMS car first lapped in 1m41.327s and then, after a cool-down lap, dropped the pole time even further to 1m41.200s, which no one could beat.
Valsecchi was just over a quarter of a second faster than the Lotus-run car of Esteban Gutierrez on 1m41.479s, with his DAMS team-mate Felipe Nasr in third on 1m41.785s.
The top driver to switch to the options for his second run, rather than his first, was Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer, who set his 1m41.789s with seven minutes remaining. Track temperature was down 10 degrees centigrade on this morning's free practice, making tyre pressure settings even more tricky to judge than usual.
Johnny Cecotto Jr will start fifth, another to leave his option tyres until his second run for Addax, ahead of Trident's Stephane Richelmi. Marcus Ericsson (iSport, who has a 10-place grid penalty for hitting Valsecchi in Malaysia) was seventh-fastest, followed by Sepang sprint race winner James Calado (Lotus).
Points leader Luis Razia will start down in ninth for Arden, alongside Max Chilton, whose Carlin machine lost a lot of pace since free practice. Series returnee Dani Clos was 14th fastest in the second Addax car.
The session was stopped after 13 minutes due to series returnee Brendon Hartley's broken front wing littering the track at the final corner. He was 21st quickest in his Ocean-run machine. Giedo van der Garde (Caterham, 12th) and Simon Trummer (Arden, 24th) were also reportedly involved in the incident, which the stewards are looking into.