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GP2 - Russell on top during final day of Le Castellet test

British driver’s morning session time unbeaten as Albon tops afternoon


8 March 2018 - 17h06, by Olivier Ferret 

George Russell set the quickest lap in the final day of FIA Formula 2 pre-season testing at Le Castellet, France, clocking in a time of 1:42.396 while DAMS’ Alexander Albon topped the timesheets during the afternoon session.

As teams sought to make the most of the remaining time available on the last day of testing, Arjun Maini was first on the scene at the start of the day. The Trident driver was followed onto the circuit by both ART drivers and teammate Santino Ferrucci, as the rest of the field filtered onto the track for an early flurry of activity.

Roy Nissany (Campos Vexatec Racing) brought out the first red flag after 20 minutes of running having stopped on the Mistral Straight. At this stage, Russell headed the standings with a medium tyre benchmark in the 1m43s, and after the session restarted the British driver began to trade best times with teammate Aitken. Although the latter held the advantage after the first hour, Russell soon recouped his position at the top by the midway point of the session.

Two further red flags were shown during the second hour of the session; Antonio Fuoco stopped on the circuit for the first, while RUSSIAN TIME’s Artem Markelov and Ralph Boschung (MP Motorsport) came to a halt within seconds of each other for the second.

Luca Ghiotto (Campos) led the field out as the session quickly restarted, as the drivers spent the rest of the morning getting stuck into their long-run programs. Russell’s time remained impenetrable, as the teams focused on race pace for the remainder, with Aitken finishing second just under two tenths shy of his teammate. Between them, the ART duo clocked in over 100 laps, with Aitken managing 56 of them.

Nyck De Vries (PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing) was third fastest ahead of Albon, as Louis Delétraz of Charouz Racing System completed the top five. Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin) was sixth fastest ahead of teammate Lando Norris, as Maximilian Günther and Nirei Fukuzumi of BWT Arden finished eighth and ninth respectively. Replacing Oliver Rowland at DAMS for the third day of running, Daniel Ticktum rounded out the top 10.

The action returned in the afternoon after an hour’s break, with Norris taking to the track first ahead of Delétraz. A short stoppage for Günther’s stricken car interrupted the first 15 minutes, but running continued swiftly with Nissany taking the initiative ahead of the two Charouz drivers.

Norris took the early advantage in the timing screens, before Günther atoned for his earlier misfortune by leapfrogging the British driver. Ghiotto and Sette Camara all briefly led during the first hour, but Günther ended it on top ahead of the trio.

After the halfway point of the session had elapsed, Norris took top spot by just a smidgen over Günther, holding position for almost an hour of the session as the teams continued to prioritise race simulations in the final day. Maini then took top spot with under half an hour to go, finding two tenths over Norris, before a red flag ahead of the final 20 minutes for Sean Gelael (PERTAMINA PREMA) put the dying stages of the session on pause.

Fuoco led the field out of the pits after the restart with 15 minutes to go, and Maini’s time was toppled by Albon; the Thai driver was the first to dip under the 1m43s laps among a late swarm of activity on-track, which remained the best time of the session.

Maini held on for second, ahead of Norris and Ticktum, while Gunther took fifth place. The Charouz duo of Delétraz and Fuoco finished sixth and seventh, with Sette Camara fractions behind. Ghiotto and RUSSIAN TIME’s Tadasuke Makino completed the top half of the field. Russell concluded the afternoon’s running with a session high of 60 laps.

The next Formula 2 test will take place at Bahrain from the 21st-23rd of March.



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