UNI-Virtuosi Racing driver and championship leader Luca Ghiotto continued his strong pace in FIA Formula 2 by going fastest in practice around the Baku City Circuit.
The Italian who took the first pole position and sprint race win of the season, placed a 1:56.637 just as the chequered flag fell to end the session, jumping ahead of the Carlin of Nobuharu Matsushita. The Japanese driver provided the pace for majority of the session before being beaten by the Virtuosi driver.
MP Motorsport‘s Jordan King set the third best time of the session, going ahead of ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries and DAMS‘ Nicholas Latifi. Mick Schumacher in the Prema Racing car went sixth fastest in his first outing around the Baku street circuit. The German was the last driver to be under a second of Ghiotto’s fastest time.
British and Ferrari Academy driver Callum Ilott followed Schumacher behind with the seventh best time in his Sauber Junior Team, beating Sérgio Sette Câmara. Juan Manuel Correa ended the session ninth overall ahead of Sean Gelael in the Prema, who rounds off the top ten.
The sole practice session in Azerbaijan began with BWT Arden‘s Tatiana Calderon heading out on track first, followed by fellow rookie driver, Guanyu Zhou. Most of the field headed out onto the track to complete their installation laps before starting their first timed laps.
The first yellow flag of the session arrived at Turn 2 when Nikita Mazepin used the run-off area of the corner. The Russian driver was pushed back onto the circuit and continued his practice running.
Hubert produced the first proper lap of the session with a 2:07.485 with ten minutes of the session gone. Virtuosi’s quickly jumped ahead of the Frenchman with Ghiotto and Zhou occupying the top two of the timing screens. Giuliano Alesi soon split the two cars by going second fastest before Jack Aitken in the Campos went fastest overall with 30 minutes of the session remaining.
de Vries became the first driver to set a time below the 2 minute barrier by placing a 1:59.726. Ghiotto quickly joined him before both Carlin cars of Matsushita and Louis Delétraz went fastest overall with the Japanese driver completing a 1:59.036.
Mahaveer Raghunathan brought out the second yellow flag of the session when the Indian-Dutch driver went off on the run-off at Turn 3. The MP Motorsport driver struggled to turn the car around, requiring help from the marshals before eventually returning to the track three minutes after going off the circuit.
With twenty minutes of the session remaining, de Vries remained fastest overall ahead of Ilott, Gelael, Delétraz and Schumacher. Matsushita soon went top with a 1:58.067, jumping ahead of the ART driver by 0.008 seconds. Sette Câmara split the two cars by placing an identical time to the Japanese driver. Since Matsushita set his time first compare to the Brazilian, he gets priority and the position over the DAMS driver.
Ghiotto re-claimed the top spot of the session by breaking into the 1:56 for the first time, placing a 1:56.871, over one second clear to second place Matsushita with ten minutes of practice left.
With five minutes remaining, Ghiotto remained on top before Matsushita improved on his time to take back the top spot from the Italian driver. King improved to go third fastest ahead of de Vries and Latifi.
As the chequered flag waved, Ghiotto improved on his final lap to take the top spot away from Matsushita. A brief yellow flag appeared for the Trident of Ralph Boschung, who went off at Turn 3. Aitken couldn’t stop his car at Turn 15, using the run-off at the corner and was able to spin his car round back onto the circuit.
With practice concluded, Ghiotto and Virtusoi continue to display their quick pace from the opening round and look to be favourites to take pole position again, but will face competition with the Carlin of Matsushita following closely behind him.
|1||8||UNI-Virtuosi Racing||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||1:56.637|
|2||2||Carlin Motorsport||Nobuharu Matsushita||JPN||1:56.919|
|3||16||MP Motorsport||Jordan King||GBR||1:57.023|
|4||4||ART Grand Prix||Nyck de Vries||NED||1:57.441|
|6||9||PREMA Racing||Mick Schumacher||GER||1:57.576|
|7||11||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||Callum Ilott||GBR||1:57.887|
|8||8||DAMS||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||1:58.029|
|9||12||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||Juan Manuel Correa||USA||1:58.273|
|10||10||PREMA Racing||Sean Gelael||INO||1:58.377|
|11||15||Campos Racing||Jack Aitken||GBR||1:58.647|
|12||1||Carlin Motorsport||Louis Deletraz||CHE||1:58.685|
|14||3||ART Grand Prix||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||1:59.699|
|15||7||UNI-Virtuosi Racing||Guanyu Zhou||CHI||1:59.753|
|16||19||BWT Arden||Anthoine Hubert||FRA||1:59.801|
|18||18||BWT Arden||Tatiana Calderon||COL||2:01.994|
|19||14||Campos Racing||Dorian Boccolacci||FRA||2:02.474|
|20||17||MP Motorsport||Mahaveer Raghunathan||NED||2:09.848|