Vandoorne dominates opening GP2 practice

Vandoorne waits in the pits for the action to begin
Vandoorne waits in the pits for the action to begin

McLaren tester and Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne was on top form in this morning’s free practice at the Sochi Autodrom: with a laptime of 1:45.326 – six tenths clear from Arthur Pic in P2, the Belgian easily topped the session laying his cards on the table before this afternoon’s qualifying session as title rival Alexander Rossi had a more challenging session and finished eighth.

The pitlane opened under grey skies and in cool temperatures. Raffaele Marciello was the first driver to feed onto the track on Medium Pirelli tires, but it was Alex Lynn who set the early pace ahead of the Italian. Vandoorne was next to go top, but Lynn was able to go even faster to reclaim P1.

Vandoorne however was clearly on a mission: he was the first man to dip under 1m47s (six tenths clear from Lynn). As Pierre Gasly edged his teammate out of P2 and reduced the gap to Vandoorne, the ART racer found some extra pace again on his next lap to leave the Frenchman 1.160s behind on the timing screens. Vandoorne eventually crushed his rivals’ hopes for glory after he broke the 1m46s barrier with ten minutes left on the clock.

Behind him, Rio Haryanto moved up to P2, but his teammate Arthur Pic bettered his laptime in the final stages of the session and relegated the Indonesian to third. At the checkered flag and behind the top three, Mitch Evans finished fourth ahead of Lynn and Gasly. It was a trickier session for Rossi who seemed to struggle in the opening stages (he span at Sector 11 but was able to resume): the American managed to move up to P7 in the dying minutes, but Sergey Sirotkin edged him out at the checkered flag. Marciello and Nobuharu Matsushita completed the top ten.

With the weather forecast uncertain for this afternoon (light raindrops made an appearance at the end of the free practice), the order might be reshuffled for the qualifying session in a few hours’ time..

Results

POS NO DRIVERS TEAMS LAPS TIME GAP INT.
1 5 S. Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 17 1:45.326 0.000 0.000
2 14 A. Pic Campos Racing 18 1:46.025 0.699 0.699
3 15 R. Haryanto Campos Racing 19 1:46.099 0.773 0.074
4 9 M. Evans RUSSIAN TIME 15 1:46.188 0.862 0.089
5 2 A. Lynn DAMS 18 1:46.216 0.890 0.028
6 1 P. Gasly DAMS 20 1:46.232 0.906 0.016
7 18 S. Sirotkin Rapax 21 1:46.290 0.964 0.058
8 8 A. Rossi Racing Engineering 18 1:46.448 1.122 0.158
9 11 R. Marciello Trident 20 1:46.500 1.174 0.052
10 6 N. Matsushita ART Grand Prix 20 1:46.673 1.347 0.173
11 20 A. Negrão Arden International 20 1:46.746 1.420 0.073
12 12 J. Cecotto Trident 19 1:46.902 1.576 0.156
13 21 N. Nato Arden International 19 1:46.934 1.608 0.032
14 10 A. Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 17 1:47.018 1.692 0.084
15 17 R. Binder MP Motorsport 18 1:47.132 1.806 0.114
16 16 N. Latifi MP Motorsport 19 1:47.173 1.847 0.041
17 7 J. King Racing Engineering 17 1:47.176 1.850 0.003
18 27 S. Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus 17 1:47.300 1.974 0.124
19 3 D. Stoneman Carlin 18 1:47.358 2.032 0.058
20 23 R. Stanaway Status Grand Prix 14 1:47.411 2.085 0.053
21 26 N. Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus 17 1:47.431 2.105 0.020
22 22 M. Stockinger Status Grand Prix 20 1:47.707 2.381 0.276
23 19 R. Visoiu Rapax 20 1:48.445 3.119 0.738
24 4 S. Gelael Carlin 19 1:48.959 3.633 0.514

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