Leclerc sets the pace in Bahrain

Monegasque ace quickest in dry/wet/dry Day 1


By Olivier Ferret

29 March 2017 - 17:56
Leclerc sets the pace in Bahrain

Charles Leclerc has set the bar for the second FIA Formula 2 pre-season test by topping the timesheets this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit: the PREMA Racing man’s best laptime remained unchallenged in a dry/wet/dry afternoon session

The session opened to the expected warm temperatures, with all drivers making use of their first set of medium Pirelli compounds as they ran through the usual installation routines, running in and out of the pitlane a number of times as the teams studied the data. Jordan King was the only driver to set a laptime for the first third of the session, with Sergio Sette Camara taking over on the timesheets at the halfway mark.

Soon after the pace started to pick up, and the PREMA pairing of Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco were the first drivers to set competitive times, with the Monegasque driver setting the target with what would ultimately be the top time of the morning session. With an hour remaining King improved to split the teammates and grab P2, with Nobuharu Matsushita improving to 3rd shortly after.

In the closing stages of the session the pace improved all along the pitlane, with Luca Ghiotto grabbing P3 with 30 minutes remaining, but as the chequered flag dropped no one was able to beat Leclerc’s time: the top 12 drivers were within a second of his best lap.

Following a two hour break, the pitlane went green under grey skies with King the early pace-setter, but twenty minutes into the session the rain started to fall over the track. Another twenty minutes later, it intensified sending all cars back into the pits.

After the rain had stopped, Nyck De Vries was the first man back out and on wet tyres. With one hour left on the clock, the slicks were back along with the sun. In the final thirty minutes, the Rapax pair of De Vries and Johnny Cecotto took control of the timesheets, the Dutchman ahead of the Venezuelan. Ghiotto also put his head down and edged out De Vries. With ten minutes remaining in the session, the proceedings were halted after Artem Markelov stopped at Turn 8.

The pitlane went live again with all cars rushing to get the most out of the final three minutes. As the chequered flag dropped, Matsushita lit all three sectors in purple to go top. Delétraz also put together a strong lap and improved in all sectors, but not enough to steal the Japanese’s thunder.

After the dust settled, it was found that Fuoco, Matsushita, Delétraz, Cecotto and Sergio Canamasas had failed to respect a red flag prompted after Boschung had a technical issue on track. The best laptimes of the culprits were deleted hence promoting Ghiotto, King and de Vries to the top 3.

Tomorrow’s session will open at 9am local time.

Morning results

1. Charles Leclerc PREMA Racing 1:41.454 15
2. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:41.634 10
3. Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 1:41.700 15
4. Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1:41.718 10
5. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:41.777 15
6. Oliver Rowland DAMS 1:42.005 7
7. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:42.104 5
8. Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1:42.110 17
9. Nyck de Vries Rapax 1:42.121 7
10. Antonio Fuoco PREMA Racing 1:42.167 15
11. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:42.201 13
12. Louis Delétraz Racing Engineering 1:42.353 11
13. Johnny Cecotto Rapax 1:42.596 11
14. Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1:42.632 9
15. Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1:42.890 15
16. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:42.950 13
17. Nabil Jeffri Trident 1:42.964 15
18. Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1:43.126 20
19. Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1:43.263 14
20. Raoul Hyman Campos Racing 1:43.926 19

Afternoon results

1. Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 1:42.003 18
2. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:42.246 25
3. Nyck De Vries Rapax 1:42.307 20
4. Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1:43.033 25
5. Johnny Cecotto Rapax 1:43.722 10
6. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:43.786 18
7. Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1:43.835 22
8. Raoul Hyman Campos Racing 1:44.050 22
9. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:44.581 15
10. Louis Delétraz Racing Engineering 1:44.728 27
11. Nabil Jeffri Trident 1:45.378 14
12. Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1:46.154 32
13. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:46.211 36
14. Oliver Rowland DAMS 1:46.358 22
15. Charles Leclerc PREMA Racing 1:46.499 19
16. Antonio Fuoco PREMA Racing 1:47.687 19
17. Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1:48.224 22
18. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:54.103 22
19. Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1:54.155 17
20. Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1:55.799 7


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