Home favourite Jack Doohan dominated Formula 2’s first ever session in Australia as three red flags interrupted practice in Melbourne.
Starting his first race weekend on home soil, Virtuosi driver Doohan took advantage of his position at the head of the field to consistently lower the benchmark.
The drivers lost around a third of the 45 minutes of running to red flags as they all got to grips with the Albert Park circuit.
Roy Nissany was the first to be caught out, dipping his left-rear wheel onto the grass on entry to the final corner and spinning into the outside wall. It took more than 10 minutes for his car to be recovered and for the session to resume.
Hitech’s young pair of Red Bull-backed rookies Isack Hadjar and Jak Crawford took over from Doohan at the top of the times before the next red flag was triggered when Jehan Daruvala made a similar error to Nissany, this time spinning into the inside of the track and straddling the pit entrance.
Twelves minutes remained at the restart, after which Doohan reclaimed first place. Hadjar and Crawford both improved but remained second and third, the former just 0.009s off Doohan’s time.
Alpine junior Doohan then improved by nine tenths on his next attempt, and found a further quarter of a second in the closing minutes of the session to become the first and only driver to enter the 1m28s.
The entire field behind him improved their times before Ollie Bearman triggered the third and final red flag when he lost control entering turn one and slid onto the grass.
Hadjar finished up second, with fellow rookie Victor Martins third ahead of Crawford to split the otherwise seemingly inseparable Hitech duo.
Just before his off, Bearman clocked the sixth best time, behind Enzo Fittipaldi and ahead of two more Red Bull juniors, Ayumu Iwasa and Zane Maloney. Championship leader Ralph Boschung was 10th behind Richard Verschoor, with Theo Pourchaire 14th.
Free practice results
|1||Jack Doohan||Virtuosi Racing||1m28.989s||17|
|2||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||1m29.302s||+0.313s||16|
|3||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||1m29.312s||+0.323s||16|
|4||Jak Crawford||Hitech GP||1m29.379s||+0.390s||17|
|9||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||1m29.691s||+0.702s||17|
|10||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||1m29.958s||+0.969s||16|
|11||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||1m30.035s||+1.046s||15|
|12||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||1m30.231s||+1.242s||16|
|14||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1m30.268s||+1.279s||16|
|16||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||1m30.347s||+1.358s||16|
|18||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||1m31.054s||+2.065s||16|
|19||Brad Benavides||PHM by Charouz||1m31.183s||+2.194s||16|
|21||Roy Nissany||PHM by Charouz||1m34.096s||+5.107s||6|
|22||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||1m40.683s||+11.694s||8|