Maini tops first session in Bahrain

Arjun Maini in new F2 car
Arjun Maini in new F2 car

Arjun Maini drew first blood in the first 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship practice session at Sakhir, Bahrain, setting a 1:44.459 midway through the session to beat the Carlin duo of Lando Norris and Sergio Sette Camara to the quickest lap.

Warm and breezy conditions greeted the drivers on their first free practice session of the 2018 season, and most drivers needed to set installation laps in the opening five minutes of running to acclimatize. ART Grand Prix’s George Russell led an early flurry of activity out of the pits, while the first timed lap was courtesy of BWT Arden’s Maximilian Günther, which was given short shrift by teammate Nirei Fukuzumi.

Alexander Albon of DAMS was the first to wind the times below the two minute mark, before Fukuzumi briefly re-emerged on top of the standings to bring the laps below the 1m50 mark. Albon then took almost five seconds out of the Arden driver’s lap, leading the way after the first 20 minutes.

The Carlin duo then struck, as Sette Camara pipped the Thai driver before Norris went quicker than his teammate by just 0.05s. Both were then put in the shade by Maini, who had languished at the bottom of the timesheets during the first half of the session. Setting the quickest first sector, the Haas F1 protégé grasped first position by half a tenth, which he would not relinquish for the remainder of the session.

The final five minutes were punctuated with a brief Virtual Safety Car test, allowing all teams to trial the new VSC functionality with the new car. Although the green flag returned for the final stages, nobody was able to improve on their lap times. Behind the top three, Albon stayed ahead of Russell for fourth, while Artem Markelov (RUSSIAN TIME) was the last of the drivers within the 1m44s.

Roberto Merhi (MP Motorsport) was seventh, ahead of Gunther and Antonio Fuoco (Charouz Racing System), as Sean Gelael of PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing completed the top 10.

With the top 16 drivers all within a second, this evening’s qualifying promises to be incredibly close fought, especially with cooler conditions and option tire running to contend with.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Round 1 Free Practice Classification

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

Laps

1

Arjun Maini

Trident

1:44.549

12

2

Lando Norris

Carlin

1:44.600

14

3

Sergio Sette Camara

Carlin

1:44.613

11

4

Alexander Albon

DAMS

1:44.769

15

5

George Russell

ART Grand Prix

1:44.812

13

6

Artem Markelov

RUSSIAN TIME

1:44.861

10

7

Roberto Merhi

MP Motorsport

1:45.005

13

8

Maximilian Gunther

BWT Arden

1:45.010

16

9

Antonio Fuoco

Charouz Racing System

1:45.080

15

10

Sean Gelael

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

1:45.214

13

11

Jack Aitken

ART Grand Prix

1:45.268

14

12

Nicholas Latifi

DAMS

1:45.291

16

13

Nyck de Vries

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

1:45.329

12

14

Tadasuke Makino

RUSSIAN TIME

1:45.331

14

15

Luca Ghiotto

Campos Vexatec Racing

1:45.344

14

16

Santino Ferrucci

Trident

1:45.419

14

17

Ralph Boschung

MP Motorsport

1:45.564

13

18

Nirei Fukuzumi

BWT Arden

1:45.849

16

19

Louis Deletraz

Charouz Racing System

1:45.958

14

20

Roy Nissany

Campos Vexatec Racing

1:46.407

15

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