Mihai Marinescu edged out Jack Clarke by just eight thousandths of a second to top the timesheets after a truncated morning session in Barcelona.
The day had started with full wet conditions following overnight run, but after the first hour of running a clear dry line had emerged which prompted a move onto slicks. The track however remained treacherous, with damp patches – particularly on the kerbs and astro turf – threatening to catch drivers out.
In such tricky conditions the fight for top spot was a straight shoot out between Marinescu and Britain’s Jack Clarke, who has been extremely strong in winter testing thus far having topped four of the six sessions in the opening test at Portimão.
Ultimately Marinescu’s best time – a 1:38.647s set with seven minutes of the session remaining – was enough to seal top spot, with Clarke’s best effort an agonising eight thousandths of a second short.
Ramón Piñeiro continued his good testing form to finish third fastest, although the Spaniard – who scored a point in his debut F2 race at Valencia in September – had been top of the timesheets with ten minutes of the session remaining.
Behind him Alex Brundle was similarly impressive as he clinched fourth overall. The Briton finished inside the top six in all but one session at Portimão, and he backed up a strong run in the wet with another assured performance in the second half of the session to finish within one second of Marinescu’s benchmark.
2010 competitor Kelvin Snoeks was the last driver to dip below the 1m40s mark as he finished fifth fastest, ahead of Italian F3 Champion César Ramos – the Brazilian impressing by running inside the top five for much of the session.
France’s Maxime Jousse meanwhile enjoyed a strong opening to his prize F2 test by finishing seventh fastest, having been second after the wet first hour. Fellow newcomers Christopher Zanella, Daniel Cammish and Dominik Kraihamer looked assured throughout the morning session and rounded out the top ten.
The second hour of the session was interrupted by two incidents on track as Thiemo Storz and then Benjamin Lariche fell foul of the difficult conditions. Storz crashed heavily into the wall and will likely miss the afternoon session, while Lariche became beached in the gravel after an off at turn 11. Both drivers missed much of the dry running and finished down the order as a consequence.
FIA Formula Two Championship – Barcelona – Day One, Morning Session:
1. Mihai Marinescu, 1:36.647s
2. Jack Clarke, +0.008s
3. Ramón Piñeiro, +0.454s
4. Alex Brundle, +0.942s
5. Kelvin Snoeks, +1.177s
6. César Ramos, +1.467s
7. Maxime Jousse, +1.532s
8. Christopher Zanella, +1.570s
9. Daniel Cammish, +1.781s
10. Dominik Kraihamer, +1.842s
11. Nigel Moore, +2.235s
12. Plamen Kralev, +2.437s
13. Max Snegirev, +2.466s
14. Benjamin Lariche, +6.294s
15. Thiemo Storz, +18.007s