Russell Starts Final F2 Practice In Abu Dhabi Fastest, Albon Down in Ninth

by Aaron Gillard
George Russell - ART - Abu Dhabi

ART Grand Prix driver and FIA Formula 2 Championship leader George Russell starts the final round of the series fastest overall around the Yas Marina Circuit whilst title rival Alexander Albon finished in ninth place.

The Brit set the fastest time of the session with a 1m51.720 ahead of a crucial qualifying session where he can grow his championship advantage for the Feature race on Saturday evening.

Charouz Racing System‘s Antonio Fuoco managed to set the second best time ahead of Campos Vexatec Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto. Fourth place went to Japanese driver Nirei Fukuzumi with Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing driver Nyck de Vries in fifth place.

Roberto Merhi placed himself in sixth place with Louis Delétraz following behind in seventh place. Carlin Motorsport‘s Lando Norris ended the session in eighth place ahead of Albon and Russian Time‘s Artem Markelov, who rounds up the top ten.

Dan Ticktum, who makes his F2 debut this weekend with BWT Arden spent most of the session getting grips with the F2 machinery and ended practice twentieth fastest overall.

The sole practice session began with Norris setting the first true lap time with a 1m53.527, followed by Delétraz in the Charouz and Niko Kari. Fuoco and Merhi soon set their times and surpassed the Carlin of Norris.

Championship contender Albon made a mistake whilst attempting his first lap of the session at Turn 15, running on the kerb which sent him off the track and into the run off. Russell set his first time of the session with a 1m53.275 to go seventh fastest.

By the fifteen minute mark of practice in Abu Dhabi, Russell jumped to first place with a time of a 1m51.720 ahead of Fuoco, Ghiotto, Fukuzumi and de Vries. Albon lied eighth overall, over a second slower than Russell. Merhi pushed the limits of the Abu Dhabi circuit by running on the ‘sausage’ kerb at the exit of Turn 20,

Most of the drivers returned to the pits to take adjustments to their set-ups and swap for a new set of tyres, before heading back out with twenty minutes remaining. Markelov had a moment at the entry of the double chicane as the Russian locked up, forcing him to use the run-off and abandon his hot lap.

At the session reached the final ten minutes, the drivers worked on gathering data for the race relating to fuel loads and tyre duration as Russell remained on top ahead Fuoco, Ghiotto, Fukuzumi and de Vries.

Russell’s ART team-mate Jack Aitken made an error when attempting to enter the pit lane, going off at the last corner and missing the pit exit. He was able to return in on the following lap.

Albon attempted to improve on his time in the final minutes of the session, but couldn’t find any improvement on his time and remained in ninth place whilst his title rival remained at the top of the time sheets.

Markelov made another error in the final two minutes of the session where the Russian locked up and went off at the fast chicane of Turn 5 and 6.

At the end of the session, Russell remained on top ahead of Fuoco and Ghiotto whilst Albon ended practice down in ninth ahead of the final qualifying session of the season.

18George RussellGBRART Grand Prix1:51.720
221Antonio FuocoITACharouz Racing System0.164
314Luca GhiottoITACampos Vexatec Racing0.595
412Nirei FukuzumiJPNBWT Arden0.603
54Nyck de VriesNEDPertamina Prema Theodore Racing0.666
615Roberto MerhiESPCampos Vexatec Racing0.675
720Louis DeletrazSUICharouz Racing System0.798
819Lando NorrisGBRCarlin Motorsport0.891
95Alexander AlbonTHADAMS0.935
101Artem MarkelovRUSRussian Time1.220
117Jack AitkenGBRART Grand Prix1.292
1218Sergio Sette CamaraBRZCarlin Motorsport1.317
1317Alessio LorandiITATrident1.496
142Tadasuke MakinoJPNRussian Time1.640
153Sean GelaelINOPertamina Prema Theodore Racing1.678
1616Arjun MainiINDTrident1.763
176Nicholas LatifiCANDAMS1.787
1810Niko KariFINMP Motorsport1.885
199Dorian BoccalacciFRAMP Motorsport2.155
2011Dan TicktumGBRBWT Arden2.597

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