After winning the final round of the year on Sunday, Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala continued his excellent time in the Bahrain desert by topping the first day of the FIA Formula 2 post-season test.
The Indian’s sprint race victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix was his first in F2 and gives him the perfect platform to build on heading into his second year in the series.
While he is yet to confirm his plans, all the fingers point towards him staying at Carlin, potentially alongside another Red Bull affiliated driver.
Just like Sunday’s sprint race, it was a Carlin one-two when the chequered flag fell at the end of the day’s running – which was delayed to ‘ensure all safety and marshalling support was in place’ – as Dan Ticktum finished just over a tenth off the Indian.
Ticktum confirmed after the final race (in which he was third) that he wouldn’t be returning with DAMS next year, but he did have a deal secured with a good team and this may indicate that Daruvala and Ticktum could be Carlin’s 2021 line-up.
One driver unlikely to return is Swiss racer Louis Delétraz but that didn’t stop him putting the MP Motorsport car, driven by Felipe Drugovich this season, third fastest ahead of Robert Shwartzman.
The Russian is already confirmed to be returning to F2 next season with PREMA alongside FIA Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri who enjoyed a very fruitful first day in the car, ending the session fifth, ahead of F2 vice-champion Callum Ilott who returned to Charouz for just the first day.
Ralph Boschung deputised for Jack Aitken as the Brit filled in at Williams for George Russell at the weekend and he put his Campos up in seventh come the end of the day. He’s another driver confirmed for 2021 as is Drugovich who was ninth fastest, just behind his UNI-Virtuosi teammate Guanyu Zhou.
There was a smattering of F3 graduates being given a chance with Liam Lawson 11th for Hitech GP and Lirim Zendeli 12th for MP Motorsport.
Clément Novalak was 15th for Trident; Logan Sargeant 18th for Campos; David Beckmann 19th for Charouz and Matteo Nannini 20th for HWA Racelab.
Two more days still remain for drivers to make their case for a race seat in 2021 and the line-up changes each day, meaning everyone has to be on their game.
|3||Louis Delétraz||MP Motorsport||1:42:251|
|11||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||1:42:879|
|12||Lirim Zendeli||MP Motorsport||1:42:907|
|13||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||1:42:972|
|20||Matteo Nannini||HWA Racelab||1:43:497|
|21||Roberto Merhi||HWA Racelab||1:44:179|