Norris keeps on shining on Day 2 of Le Castellet test
Carlin driver ends day with fastest time as Albon heads afternoon running
Lando Norris ended the second day of FIA Formula 2 pre-season testing with the quickest time, as his 1:42.226 lap proved to be unbeatable during the post-break running while DAMS driver Alexander Albon headed the leaderboard in the afternoon.
In the morning, Trident’s Arjun Maini was the first to take to the circuit, followed in hot pursuit by Sette Camara. Seeking to get plenty of dry running early in the breezy, sunny conditions, the majority of the field were out of the blocks within the first ten minutes, trading fastest times as the track conditions improved with the flurry of activity.
Jack Aitken of ART Grand Prix took the early advantage 20 minutes into the session, beating Norris’ best time from yesterday by half a second, before PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing’s Nyck De Vries hit back to beat the Brit to top spot. A first red flag came out approaching the end of the first half-hour - MP Motorsport’s Roberto Merhi came to a stop at turn 12 - with a second stoppage coming courtesy of Sean Gelael (PERTAMINA PREMA) later on.
Finding more time, Aitken became the first driver to break into the 1m42s times, before going even faster on his next tour of the circuit. Maini got within two tenths as the first half of the session drew to a close.
Fastest on day 1, Norris returned to the top of the standings with 0.3s in hand over Aitken, as Sette Camara continued Carlin’s strong pace on the medium compound tyres by getting within a smidgen of the ART driver’s time, before overhauling it a few laps later.
Russell stopped with 20 minutes left on the clock, bringing out a brief red flag as the session wound into its final stages. A number of drivers bolted on the supersoft tyres on their return to the circuit but few drivers were able to improve their times; Norris’ time proved to be unbeatable as a slow final sector for Sette Camara put paid to his chances to ending the morning on top.
Aitken had to be content with third, ahead of Louis Delétraz (Charouz Racing System) who took fourth with a late charge on medium tyres. Maini set the most laps of anyone with 48 tours of the circuit, and was fifth fastest ahead of Russell. De Vries beat Luca Ghiotto (Campos Vexatec Racing) to seventh, while Albon and Nirei Fukuzumi (BWT Arden) completed the morning’s running in the top half of the field.
As the running got back underway in the afternoon session, BWT Arden’s Maximilian Günther immediately returned to the circuit with Maini in tow, shortly accosted by the two Charouz cars. Delétraz set the early pace in a quiet first hour of running, before De Vries dipped below the 1m43s times to end the first half of the session on top.
Delétraz returned to the lead of the timing boards shortly after the halfway point of the afternoon, in which the focus across the majority of teams was on longer runs, but De Vries edged his way ahead after chiselling away at the Swiss driver’s time.
The Dutchman seemed set to end the day at the top of the standings, with little change throughout the afternoon as race simulations were a priority, but a late flying lap from Albon relegated De Vries to second as the DAMS driver set a 1:42.406 with a minute and a half to spare.
Oliver Rowland (DAMS) was beaten to third by Delétraz, as Maini once again claimed the fifth-fastest time. Fukuzumi was sixth ahead of Charouz’s Antonio Fuoco and Merhi, while the Carlins of Norris and Sette Camara completed the afternoon in the top ten. Roy Nissany (Campos) covered the most ground in the session, clocking in 46 laps.
By the end of the second day of pre-season testing the drivers completed a total of 2,187 laps, helping them and the teams get to grips with the new car. Over the course of the 12,629 kms covered, an issue on some engines was discovered.
Technical Director Didier Perrin said: “We covered 6,000 kilometres with the development car without any engine trouble. The same can be said for the dyno tests, but it is not unusual to uncover a problem when twenty cars are running at the same time. This is also why collective tests are helpful.
“We have already sent the faulty power units for analysis and we are confident that our engine partners will remedy the situation.”
The final day of pre-season testing at Circuit Paul Ricard will resume tomorrow at 9am, with the morning’s session ending at 12pm. The running in the afternoon will take place from 1pm to 4pm.