Norris quickest on opening day at Le Castellet

Lando Norris
Lando Norris

Lando Norris completed the first day of the FIA Formula 2 pre-season test at Le Castellet, France as the fastest driver overall, the Carlin driver setting a 1:43.095 lap during the afternoon session to head the timesheets ahead of Nyck De Vries and teammate Sergio Sette Camara.

A damp, overcast Circuit Paul Ricard greeted the teams as they sought to clock in their customary installation laps at the start of the day. Oliver Rowland was the first driver to hit the track on wet weather tires for the DAMS team, narrowly beating MP Motorsport’s Ralph Boschung out of the garage.

The first hour was punctuated with a few brief red flags following early spins, with Trident’s Santino Ferrucci and Sette Camara prompting stoppages as they got to grips with the wet track, while Louis Deletraz of Charouz Racing System came to a halt at the exit of the pitlane. At the end of the first hour, new Trident recruit Arjun Maini led proceedings ahead of Ferrucci.

Norris was first to break the two minute boundary at the midway point of the session, with the track slowly drying out. Soon, a number of cars were dipping into the 1m59s as they became accustomed to the conditions, although the circuit was not dry enough throughout the session for anyone to attempt a lap on slick tires.

A red flag in the final half-hour of the session was called for Alexander Albon (DAMS) who stopped at turn 2 due to mechanical gremlins, as running got back underway with ten minutes remaining. Although Boschung was quick on the draw at the restart to eat into Norris’ advantage, edging to within three tenths of the leader, the British driver was able to put first position well out of reach by going 0.6s quicker than his best time.

Norris was the only driver to break into the 1m56s, as his teammate Sette Camara slotted in behind Boschung for third. Albon was fourth quickest, ahead of Maini – who set a session high of 36 laps – and Arden’s Maximilian Gunther. Roberto Merhi (MP Motorsport) was seventh ahead of Deletraz, while Antonio Fuoco (Charouz) and Ferrucci completed the top ten.

ART Grand Prix’s Jack Aitken kicked off proceedings after the break to make up for a lack of mileage across the morning’s session, bolting on a set of medium compound tires after the circuit had dried. The Brit had the track to himself in the opening stages, before teammate George Russell and the Campos Vexatec Racing duo of Luca Ghiotto and Roy Nissany joined him.

After the first hour, PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing’s De Vries led the standings ahead of Russell, the pace decidedly faster than the morning’s benchmark. Norris then immediately stamped his authority on the timesheets, and was joined by Sette Camara for a Carlin 1-2.

A brief red flag was called for Gunther who suffered a spin and stopped on track, but after the action returned Norris continued to whittle away at his best time, dropping below the 1m44s mark with a full house of fastest sectors.

Sean Gelael (PERTAMINA PREMA) wrested the second sector away from Norris, slotting in between the two Carlins as the session wound into the final hour. Ghiotto and De Vries briefly seized control of the timing boards, but with 20 minutes remaining Norris once again reclaimed the fastest time. It proved to be unassailable, despite De Vries’ best efforts in the latter stages.

Sette Camara was third quickest, ahead of Ghiotto and Russell. Gelael finished the day sixth fastest, completing a session-best of 40 laps, while Aitken beat Nirei Fukuzumi (BWT Arden) to seventh. Gunther and Rowland ended the session in the top ten. Over the day, 881 laps were for a cumulative total of 5000 km.

The action will resume tomorrow at 9am for the second day of the test; the morning’s running ends at 12pm, before the afternoon session takes place from 2pm to 5pm.

FIA Formula 2 Le Castellet Test – Day 1 Morning Session

Pos

Driver

Team

Laptime

Laps

1

Lando Norris

Carlin

1:56.136

30

2

Ralph Boschung

MP Motorsport

1:57.037

27

3

Sergio Sette Camara

Carlin

1:57.289

22

4

Alexander Albon

DAMS

1:57.357

28

5

Arjun Maini

Trident

1:57.591

36

6

Maximilian Gunther

BWT Arden

1:57.742

25

7

Roberto Merhi

MP Motorsport

1:58.358

20

8

Louis Deletraz

Charouz Racing System

1:58.619

19

9

Antonio Fuoco

Charouz Racing System

1:58.780

18

10

Santino Ferrucci

Trident

1:58.899

25

11

Nirei Fukuzumi

BWT Arden

1:59.759

17

12

Luca Ghiotto

Campos Vexatec Racing

2:00.067

20

13

Nyck De Vries

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

2:00.088

11

14

Sean Gelael

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

2:00.095

23

15

Tadasuke Makino

RUSSIAN TIME

2:03.229

8

16

Roy Nissany

Campos Vexatec Racing

2:03.983

15

17

George Russell

ART Grand Prix

2:04.282

8

18

Artem Markelov

RUSSIAN TIME

2:10.443

13

19

Oliver Rowland

DAMS

2:12.894

2

20

Jack Aitken

ART Grand Prix

FIA Formula 2 Le Castellet Test – Day 1 Afternoon Session

Pos

Driver

Team

Laptime

Laps

1

Lando Norris

Carlin

1:43.095

29

2

Nyck De Vries

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

1:43.282

32

3

Sergio Sette Camara

Carlin

1:43.401

29

4

Luca Ghiotto

Campos Vexatec Racing

1:43.707

33

5

George Russell

ART Grand Prix

1:43.745

20

6

Sean Gelael

PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing

1:43.844

40

7

Jack Aitken

ART Grand Prix

1:44.115

34

8

Nirei Fukuzumi

BWT Arden

1:44.232

35

9

Maximilian Gunther

BWT Arden

1:44.277

26

10

Oliver Rowland

DAMS

1:44.345

25

11

Arjun Maini

Trident

1:44.522

31

12

Ralph Boschung

MP Motorsport

1:44.603

28

13

Louis Deletraz

Charouz Racing System

1:44.807

11

14

Alexander Albon

DAMS

1:44.950

4

15

Santino Ferrucci

Trident

1:45.023

25

16

Roberto Merhi

MP Motorsport

1:45.086

29

17

Roy Nissany

Campos Vexatec Racing

1:46.166

36

18

Antonio Fuoco

Charouz Racing System

1:46.480

3

19

Tadasuke Makino

RUSSIAN TIME

1:47.050

11

20

Artem Markelov

RUSSIAN TIME

13

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