The GP2 Series completed a three day test in Abu Dhabi following the final race weekend of the season.
Nobuharu Matsushita dominated the opening day of post-season test at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for ART Grand Prix. The Japanese driver led both the morning and afternoon sessions comfortably, with Nicholas Latifi and Pierre Gasly completing the Top 3 at the end of the first day.
A total of twenty-four drivers took part in the first day on the Medium Compound Pirelli tyres and it was Matsushita who seemingly got the best out of them in order to finish ahead of the others with a time of 1:49.180 thirty minutes into the morning session but his lap time in the afternoon was even quicker, with the ART Grand Prix driver ending the day on a 1:47.903.
Alex Lynn ended his morning in second ahead of Norman Nato, the 2015 GP2 drivers sitting happily in the Top 3 before the session was interrupted briefly by a red flag.
Sean Gelael, who was testing with Campos Racing, seemed to clip the barrier which had caused debris to sit on the racing line. Whilst the Indonesian returned to the pitlane, the red flag was waved in order for the marshals to clear up the mess before the session went green once more.
Matsushita’s time was left unchallenged as the morning session came to an end but both Lynn and Nato had been beaten by Oliver Rowland and Gasly, the latter testing with newcomers, PREMA Racing.
Latifi, Tio Ellinas, André Negrao, Richie Stanaway and Nick Yelloly completed the Top 10 when the chequered flag signalled the break.
When drivers returned to the track, night had fallen and Jordan King set the early pace under the circuit lights but was quickly demoted by Matsushita. 1:48.909 was enough to slip into first place whilst fellow ART Grand Prix tester, Rowland, jumped into second – four tenths behind the Japanese driver.
Throughout the evening, many drivers including Stanaway and Latifi got a taste of sitting in first but with fifteen minutes left until the first day came to an end, Matsushita quickly slipped under the 1m48s mark, setting a lap time of 1:47.903, half a second quicker than Latifi in second position.
With Gasly in third, Rowland, Artem Markelov, Yelloly, Nato, Stanaway, Dean Stoneman and Negrao completed the Top 10.
After ending the first day of post-season testing in Abu Dhabi second, Latifi topped the second day after the Canadian completed a fastest overall time of 1:47.860 in the evening session. Nato and Sergey Sirotkin completed the Top 3.
Testing began at midday, local time, at the Yas Marina circuit and just like the first day, twenty-four cars took to the track on the Medium Compound tyres from Pirelli. Many drivers from the first day remained at the test but had swapped teams, as well as a few new faces making an appearance in the competitive field.
Stanaway in the Carlin set the pace just a few minutes into the session but was quickly jumped by the RUSSIAN TIME car driven by Gasly.
The session was stopped forty minutes into the session when debris needed to be collected at Turn 1 but the red flag period was once again brief and drivers were quickly back out on circuit. At the restart, Latifi went quickest by 0.078s ahead of Negrao, who had gone quickest before the red flag was shown.
Markelov went to the top of the standings with an hour left of the session and just before the red flag came out for a second time. Evans had seemingly come to a complete halt out on track in the Campos Racing car and it wasn’t long after the session had gone live again that it was stopped for a third time when Gasly stopped at Turn 7.
The remainder of the session went on without any trouble and at the flag it was Markelov who led the field ahead of Latifi, Negrao, Stanaway, Gasly, Yelloly, Nato, Alex Fontana, Sirotkin and Stoneman.
Cooler temperatures and the Yas Marina lights welcomed drivers onto the circuit for the evening session and the field remained the same apart from one driver change at Carlin as Richie Stanaway was replaced by Antonio Giovinazzi.
Lynn set the pace early on ahead of the fastest man in the earlier session, Markelov but Nick Yelloly dipped under the 1m49s in order to take top spot from Alex Lynn in his DAMS car.
Felix Rosenqvist found himself making contact with the barrier just thirty minutes into the session, causing the proceedings to halt whilst the tech pro barriers were repaired.
When the session went live with over an hour left on the clock, Sirotkin put his Rapax car at the top of the table whilst Negrao, also in the Rapax machine, went into second position.
It was in the later stages of the session that Nicholas Latifi seemed to find the extra pace he had been striving for the entire evening and with a 1:47.860, the Canadian in the DAMS car topped the standings ahead of Nato who could not find the one tenth needed to go into first.
Sirotkin finished the Top 3 with Lynn, Yelloly, Negrao, Gasly, Markelov, Evans and Jordan King completing the Top 10 ahead of the final day of running.
Post-season testing ended for the GP2 Series with Nobuharu Matsushita once again at the top of the standings after the ART Grand Prix driver set an overall fastest time of 1:48.313 ahead of Latifi and Sirotkin.
The final day in Abu Dhabi was slightly cooler than the previous two days, and again all twenty-four drivers were running on the Medium Compound tyres.
Stanaway was back at the wheel of the Carlin car in order to set the early pace just before Sean Gelael in the Campos Racing car caused his second red flag period of the test. The Indonesian driver span and then came to a stop at Turn 18, causing a pause in the final day’s action.
Negrao in the Rapax car went to the top at the restart when he set a lap time which was just one tenth better than that set by the New Zealander before the red flag.
A second red flag period soon came when Artur Janosz in a Trident machine stopped along the back straight but once proceedings resumed, André Negrao improved on his time and set a 1:49.154.
When the session reached the hour mark, yet another stoppage in the form of Stanaway at Turn 16 caused a brief halt in the action. Rowland showed his pace when the session restarted as the 23-year-old Brit dipped beneath the 1m49s mark and went two tenths better than the time set by Negrao earlier.
Just before the break, Pierre Gasly in the PREMA Racing car stopped at Turn 9 and caused a final red flag period.
Mitch Evans had managed to set a quick lap just before the chequered flag and the Campos Racing racer finished first ahead of Rowland, Luca Ghiotto, Negrao, Sirotkin, Matsushita, Tio Ellinas, Yelloly, Giovinazzi and Stanaway.
The evening session was quickly under red flag conditions when Salvatore Del Plano in an MP Motorsport car stopped at the exit of Turn 1.
Evans set the pace when the session was resumed but he was quickly knocked down the order by Oliver Rowland and Matsushita who went quickest with a lap time of 1:48.313, which was enough for him to remain at the top of the standings until the chequered flag was waved to signal the end of the third and final day at the GP2 Series post-season test.
With Matsushita on top, Latifi was second with Sirotkin third. Rowland, Ghiotto, Negrao, Markelov, Marlon Stockinger, Stanaway and Yelloly completed the Top 10 standings at the end of the evening.