ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries kick starts the FIA Formula 2 weekend at Spa-Francorchamps fastest overall ahead of championship rival Nicholas Latifi.
The Dutchman, who holds a 30 point deficit to Latifi in the championship, set a 1:59.509 to go fastest overall in the sole practice session in the weekend. DAMS‘ Latifi ended the session second overall ahead of Carlin‘s Louis Delétraz. Latifi’s team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara was fourth overall, with Campos Racing‘s Jack Aitken in fifth. The top five were separated by one second around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Practice began with Nobuharu Matsushita leading out a train of cars out onto the track. The Japanese driver set the initial pace in the session, before the likes of Latifi, de Vries and Delétraz surpassed him in their opening lap. Juan Manuel Correa for Sauber Junior Team started the session late after his team investigated an engine-related issue.
de Vries found more time in the session, beating Latifi by setting a 1:59.509 to go fastest after completing fifteen minutes’ worth of practice. Aitken breaks into the top five with his first fast run in the session, behind the likes of Latifi, Delétraz and Sette Câmara.
de Vries held onto the lead of the session with twenty minutes left, as a brief yellow flag appeared when Giuliano Alesi spun his Trident around at the exit of Turn 10. The top five remained the same, with Luca Ghiotto in sixth as the Italian tried to find more time and narrow the gap to fifth place Aitken, but the Italian couldn’t produce the results needed in order to do so.
Hungary sprint race winner Mick Schumacher lost the rear of his PREMA Racing car at the exit of Turn 16, spinning and causing a large smokescreen at the corner. The German stopped on track as a result of the spin, resulting in a Virtual Safety Car as the marshals pushed away Schumacher’s car with twelve minutes left.
With less than five minutes left of practice, Ralph Boschung stopped his Trident on track with a mechanical failure. The Swiss driver halted before the exit of Turn 16, bringing out the red flag and prematurely ending the session as a result. Boschung ended the session with the eighth-best time.
F2 championship leader de Vries ended the session with the fastest time ahead of Latifi, Delétraz, Sette Câmara, and Aitken. Ghiotto for UNI-Virtuosi Racing set the sixth-best time ahead of Schumacher and the two Tridents of Boschung and Alesi. Matsushita rounded off the top ten, with Marino Sato making his F2 debut this weekend setting the nineteenth best time.
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