Charouz Racing System driver Louis Deletraz pipped MP Motorsport’s Nobuharu Matsushita to top spot in the first pre-season Formula 2 test session in Bahrain.
Debuting Carlin team-mates Jehan Daruvala and Yuki Tsunoda were the first to take to the track and set the early pace, before Prema’s Robert Shwartzman lowered the benchmark to a 2m09.685s one quarter of an hour into the 150-minute session.
It wasn’t until half an hour later that he was toppled, with Deletraz’s team-mate Pedro Piquet going straight into the 1m40s with a 1m49.616s as a few more drivers took to the track for installation laps on the new 18-inch tyres supplied by Pirelli.
Matsushita bettered that time by over two seconds a few minutes later, with Piquet sandwiched behind him by MP team-mate Felipe Drugovich.
Only a few more drivers had recorded sub-two minute laps by the end of the first hour, and it took another 10 minutes after that before Deletraz demonstrated his pace by moving up to second and then first with a 1m43.583s.
His progress was stalled by a 10-minute red flag period, but in the hour that remained he made no further improvements.
Daruvala moved up to third shortly after the red flag, and remained there for the rest of the session, while Matsushita improved on his best to get within 0.025s of Deletraz.
Fast laps from DAMS’ Sean Gelael and Dan Ticktum meant they sandwiched Christian Lundgaard’s ART Grand Prix replacement Sergey Sirotkin in seventh, but there was otherwise no change in the top 10.
With only 15 minutes left of the session, new teams Hitech GP and HWA Racelab had still done nothing more than installation laps, while big hitters Prema and Virtuosi had only lapped in 2m10s.
Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin went on a several lap run with nine minutes to go and was only 2.5s off the pace, while Ghiotto went out even later and went even faster, leaping way past the Ferrari and Renault juniors at Prema and Virtuosi.
Renault’s Zhou set a final-minute lap to go 17th for Virtuosi, but he was still over 13s off the pace and another 13s clear of his Ferrari-backed team-mate Callum Ilott.
HWA pair Giuliano Alesi and Artem Markelov both failed to record flying laps.
|1||Louis Deletraz||Charouz Racing System||1m43.583s|
|2||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||+0.025s|
|4||Pedro Piquet||Charouz Racing System||+0.564s|
|5||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+0.604s|
|7||Sergey Sirotkin||ART Grand Prix||+0.783s|
|10||Marcus Armstrong||ART Grand Prix||+1.196s|
|11||Jack Aitken||Campos Racing||+1.442s|
|12||Guilherme Samaia||Campos Racing||+2.236s|
|13||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||+2.476s|
|15||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||+2.598s|
|17||Guanyu Zhou||Virtuosi Racing||+13.449s|
|19||Callum Ilott||Virtuosi Racing||+26.627s|
|21||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||no time|
|22||Giuliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||no time|