Home Featured Pourchaire heads ART GP 1-2 in Formula 2 practice at Bahrain

Pourchaire heads ART GP 1-2 in Formula 2 practice at Bahrain

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Theo Pourchaire set the fastest time for ART Grand Prix in free practice for Formula 2’s opening round of 2023 at Bahrain, in a session cut short by two red flag periods.

Pourchaire headed his team-mate, reigning FIA Formula 3 champion Victor Martins, by 0.055 seconds with DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc in third place and just 0.044s further back.

There was no early rush to get out onto the circuit, meaning PHM Racing by Charouz’s Brad Benavides had the track to himself in the opening minutes, setting a best time of 1m48.538s on his third lap.

With 10 minutes gone, he was joined by the Campos Racing, Van Amersfoort Racing and Rodin Carlin pairings.  The last team’s Zane Maloney quickly overhauled Benavides to move to the front with a 1m45.984s lap, 0.16s faster than team-mate Enzo Fittipaldi.

With 30 minutes remaining, all 22 cars bar Benavides were circulating, but running was interrupted by red flags as Fittipaldi pulled off with an apparent engine issue at Turn 2, with only seven drivers having set a time.

Practice resumed with 24 minutes remaining with all bar Trident’s Roman Stanek and Fittipaldi heading straight out.

Campos’s Ralph Boschung moved to the top with a 1m45.824s, but was immediately displaced by Pourchaire who went 0.557s faster.

As times began to fall acros the field, DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa, Prema’s Frederik Vesti and then Martins took turns in second place, with Martins closing to within 0.055s of his team-mate at the front.

Leclerc underlined the pace of DAMS by taking third, 0.1s behind Pourchaire.

With under five minutes remaining, red flags were out once more as Boschung brought his car to a stop before Turn 1 after exiting the pits, bringing the session to a premature conclusion.

Dennis Hauger finished practice ninth on his first outing with MP Motorsport, ahead of VAR’s Richard Verschoor, who had his best laptime deleted for exceeding track limits.

Campos’s Kush Maini rounded out the top 10, just ahead of MP’s Jehan Daruvala who also fell foul of the stewards for running beyond the track limits.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gaps Laps
1 Theo Pourchaire ART GP 1m45.264s 9
2 Victor Martins ART GP 1m45.319s +0.055s 8
3 Arthur Leclerc DAMS 1m45.363s +0.099s 9
4 Frederik Vesti Prema 1m45.633s +0.369s 9
5 Ayumu Iwasa DAMS 1m45.667s +0.403s 9
6 Zane Maloney Carlin 1m45.795s +0.531s 14
7 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1m45.824s +0.560s 11
8 Dennis Hauger MP Motorsport 1m45.967s +0.703s 7
9 Richard Verschoor VAR 1m46.007s +0.743s 12
10 Kush Maini Campos Racing 1m46.038s +0.774s 12
11 Jehan Daruvala MP Motorsport 1m46.120s +0.856s 8
12 Enzo Fittipaldi Carlin 1m46.144s +0.880s 5
13 Ollie Bearman Prema 1m46.178s +0.914s 9
14 Isack Hadjar Hitech GP 1m46.206s +0.942s 11
15 Roy Nissany PHM by Charouz 1m46.267s +1.003s 8
16 Jack Doohan Virtuosi Racing 1m46.343s +1.079s 8
17 Clement Novalak Trident 1m46.350s +1.086s 9
18 Juan Manuel Correa VAR 1m46.378s +1.114s 12
19 Roman Stanek Trident 1m46.495s +1.231s 9
20 Jak Crawford Hitech GP 1m46.554s +1.290s 10
21 Brad Benavides PHM by Charouz 1m46.716s +1.452s 14
22 Amaury Cordeel Virtuosi Racing 1m46.716s +1.452s 8