Benjamin Lariche set the fastest time of the day during this afternoon’s test session at Portimão, the Frenchman’s best effort – a 1:36.200s – coming in the final six minutes of running.

Clear skies and brilliant sunshine meant the circuit had completely dried following a downpour in the morning, and Lariche made the most of the dry conditions to steadily improve throughout the session before putting together a late surge to end the session on top. The Frenchman has previous form on the Algarve track, having qualified fifth for F2’s second race when the series visited in July this year.

Lariche’s late effort demoted long term frontrunner Antonio Felix da Costa into second, with the Portuguese driver eventually finishing just over two tenths shy of Lariche’s ultimate benchmark.

Felix da Costa had been one of the first drivers to dip into the 1m36s bracket during the session, but he was soon joined by the impressive Jack Clarke as the duo held a gap of more than three tenths over the rest of the field. Clarke came extremely close on several occasions to bettering Potruguese driver’s time, but eventually was forced to settle for third, four thousandths of a second behind Felix da Costa.

With ten minutes of the session remaining, Jolyon Palmer made a characteristic late surge to rise up through the order and move into fourth overall. The Briton, who took one win and two pole positions at Portimão, finished just shy of a tenth behind Clarke, and was the last driver within the 1m36s bracket.

FIA Formula Two Championship – Portimão – Day One, Afternoon Session:

1. Benjamin Lariche, 1:36.200s
2. Antonio Felix da Costa, +0.244s
3. Jack Clarke, +0.248s
4. Jolyon Palmer, +0.353s
5. Thiemo Storz, +0.899s
6. Alex Brundle, +0.948s
7. Bruno Mendez, +1.210s
8. Max Snegirev, +1.237s
9. Ramón Piñeiro, +1.302s
10. Natalia Kowalska, +1.410s
11. Kevin Mirocha, +1.417s
12. André Negrão, +1.909s
13. Plamen Kralev, +2.059s
14. Vincent Beltoise, +3.506s