Barcelona, FP: Albon quickest in free practice

Thai driver claims fastest time in stop-start session

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By Olivier Ferret

11 May 2018 - 14:04
Barcelona, FP: Albon quickest in (...)

DAMS’ Alexander Albon completed the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Free Practice session at Barcelona, Spain as the fastest driver, setting a 1:29.327 to stand three tenths clear of second-placed Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin) as Luca Ghiotto of Campos Vexatec Racing ended the session in third.

A breezy session began with the Trident duo of Santino Ferrucci and Arjun Maini leapfrogging their opponents to leave the pits first, followed out by ART’s Jack Aitken as they all sought to take full advantage of the session’s 45 minute runtime. The American racer put the opening time on the board, which was given short shrift by Louis Delétraz; the Charouz Racing System driver held the early pace before Ferrucci spun on his next lap at Turn 4 to bring out a red flag after just five minutes of running.

Maini reopened the action when the track went green, which was immediately greeted by drivers trading best sector times as they looked to make up for the session’s suspension. The Indian driver briefly went top, before Carlin’s Lando Norris snatched the advantage. Despite setting the fastest opening sectors, a poor final portion of the lap stymied Albon’s efforts to overturn Norris’ control of the timing boards, allowing the Charouz pair of Delétraz and Antonio Fuoco to occupy second and third.

A second red flag was then brought out for Boschung, who produced an almost carbon copy of Ferrucci’s early spin at Turn 4 to pause the running once more. Sette Camara got the ball rolling again and beat Norris’ time on his subsequent flying lap, before Ghiotto went quickest by just a tenth over the Brazilian’s best.

Albon then found his way to the top, despite encountering heavy traffic in the final sector, before the Carlins reassumed the top placings. The Thai driver hit back, finding further gains in the opening two thirds of the lap to go three tenths ahead of Sette Camara. The final ten minutes were greeted with few improvements and, after a planned Virtual Safety Car in the last stages, Albon kept control of the timing boards.

Ghiotto slotted into third behind Sette Camara, while Nyck de Vries of PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing headed Norris and Fuoco for fourth. Roberto Merhi (MP Motorsport) grabbed seventh in the final stages of the session, ahead of eighth-placed George Russell (ART) and Roy Nissany (Campos), as Aitken completed the top half of the field.

Qualifying will take place this afternoon and, with four different winners on the grid after just two rounds, should be a very closely-contested affair.

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