GP2 Series

GP2 Bahrain: King sets the early pace ahead of Rossi

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The opening practice session of the 2015 GP2 Series season in Bahrain was dominated by the Racing Engineering duo of Jordan King and Alexander Rossi as they finished first and second, only separated by 0.010s.

With a track temperature of 53 degrees and an air temperature of 34 the first practice session of the year was a scorcher, and this affected the way teams used their allotted soft and medium Pirelli tyre allocation.

Heat aside it was Rossi who set the early pace on the first lap of the session but was quickly beaten by team-mate King with a 1.42.441s.

The top four remained unchanged for the entire session. With King leading Rossi, rookie Alex Lynn who was 0.068 off the pace and title favourite Stoffel Vandoorne who finished 0.171s behind King.

The session didn’t end so well for Vandoorne though. An oil pressure problem at turn two meant the Belgian had to pull over and end his session early, bringing out the yellow flags in the process.

With track temperatures increasing all the time, the majority of teams decided to switch to race simulations for the final 20 minutes of the session. Meaning that the times set during the opening 15 minutes remained for the whole session.

The always tricky turn 10 caused problems for a number of drivers with lock-ups becoming the norm. Drivers struggled with their breaking points at turn 10 which leads onto a DRS straight, which could pose a problem in the race.

Many drivers including Formula Renault 3.5 graduate Pierre Gasly, Raffaele Marciello and Richie Stanaway struggled with grip on the hot, dusty surface and were seen fighting the rear end on a number of occasions.

At the end of the session the top 10 were separated by less than a second. Like the top four, the top 10 remained unchanged for the entirety of the session.

The Campos Racing duo of Arthur Pic and Rio Haryanto finished fifth and sixth respectively, closely followed by rookie Gasly and the Russian Time of Mitch Evans in eighth.

Ferrari Driver Academy protege Marciello finished the session in ninth for new team Trident ahead of Honda-backed rookie Nobuharu Matsushita who rounded out the top 10.

The opening session ended with a virtual safety car test. All cars on the grid have been fitted with a light behind the cockpit to show they’re under safety car conditions. As in Formula 1 the drivers must stick to their allotted safety car sector time or risk a penalty.

Qualifying for the opening round gets underway at 18:00 GMT.

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