Oliver Rowland set the fastest time in the first official free practice session of the new era of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
The British driver, racing this year for DAMS after switching from MP Motorsport, set a time of 1:42.221s to lead the twenty-car field, just under a tenth quicker than Russian Time’s Artem Markelov.
It was a great way for Rowland, the newly confirmed Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Development Driver to start the year, while Markelov began his fourth season with Russian Time in a strong way as well, just ahead of Ferrari Driver Academy members Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco, both of Prema Racing.
Norman Nato was fifth on his return to Arden, with Luca Ghiotto just behind in sixth in the second Russian Time car, while Rapax duo Nyck de Vries and Johnny Cecotto Jr were next up in seventh and eighth despite the former completing only six laps before stopping on track with just over twelve minutes remaining to cause a virtual safety car.
Nobuharu Matsushita was the leading ART Grand Prix driver in ninth, while Racing Engineering’s Gustav Malja completed the top ten ahead of MP Motorsport duo Sergio Sette Câmara and Jordan King.
Whereas practice took place under the blazing sunshine, qualifying will take place in cooler conditions on Friday evening, meaning practice may well have little bearing on what happens later in the day.
Bahrain International Circuit Free Practice Result
|2||6||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||1:42.313|
|3||1||Charles Leclerc||MON||Prema Racing||1:42.372|
|4||2||Antonio Fuoco||ITA||Prema Racing||1:42.381|
|5||20||Norman Nato||FRA||Pertamina Arden||1:42.594|
|6||5||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||Russian Time||1:42.715|
|7||18||Nyck de Vries||NED||Rapax||1:43.052|
|8||19||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Rapax||1:43.146|
|9||7||Nobuharu Matsushita||JAP||ART Grand Prix||1:43.213|
|10||4||Gustav Malja||SWE||Racing Engineering||1:43.230|
|11||14||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||MP Motorsport||1:43.260|
|12||15||Jordan King||GBR||MP Motorsport||1:43.265|
|14||21||Sean Gelael||INO||Pertamina Arden||1:43.355|
|15||11||Ralph Boschung||SWI||Campos Racing||1:43.479|
|16||12||Stefano Coletti||MON||Campos Racing||1:43.632|
|19||3||Louis Deletraz||SWI||Racing Engineering||1:44.016|
|20||8||Alexander Albon||THA||ART Grand Prix||1:44.360|