Christopher Zanella

Swiss leads from McKenzie and Pommer at sun-soaked Paul Ricard

Christopher Zanella was the first to get to grips with the Paul Ricard layout, topping the timesheets during today’s (Friday) sun-drenched opening Formula Two practice session.

The 22-year-old just pipped Daniel McKenzie, who had led throughout the 45-minute session, with a late lap of 1:54.562s, with Markus Pommer finishing third ahead of Brits Luciano Bacheta and Dino Zamparelli.

Temperatures were hitting 33˚C as the session got underway with the majority of drivers new to the 5.8km French track. McKenzie, one of a few to have raced here before, was the early pace-setter closely followed by Alex Fontana and Bacheta with all three lapping inside 0.7s.

After his race-win last time out, Mihai Marinescu continued his strong form to move into second with Mathéo Tuscher now in third before many of the drivers headed into the pits after completing their first runs.

Pommer, currently lying fifth in the drivers’ standings, then went P2 but still three tenths shy of McKenzie’s best as Axcil Jefferies went wide at Turn 14. In the closing stages, McKenzie went even quicker with Pommer also following him into the 1:54s while Jefferies put his previous spin behind him to go fourth, eventually crossing the line P7.

Hurst was also looking quick in sixth while 22-year-old Bacheta was struggling down in P8 until shooting up to fourth. At the flag, Mauro Calamia went sixth to record his best ever practice performance with Hurst in eighth. Marinescu took the chequered flag to take ninth having shown strong pace earlier in the session while Swiss teenager Tuscher completed the top 10 on F2’s maiden outing to the newly confirmed F1 track.

Today’ second practice session gets underway at 16:25 (local time) with full coverage, including live timing, on the F2 website.

F2 Results: Paul Ricard – Practice 1:

1. Christopher Zanella, 1:54.562s
2. Daniel McKenzie, +0.170s
3. Markus Pommer, +0.193s
4. Luciano Bacheta, +0.474s
5. Dino Zamparelli, +0.662s
6. Mauro Calamia, +0.847s
7. Axcil Jefferies, +1.002s
8. Hector Hurst, +1.210s
9. Mihai Marinescu, +1.235s
10. Mathéo Tuscher, +1.541s
11. Alex Fontana, +1.635s
12. Kevin Mirocha, +1.675s
13. David Zhu, +2.665s
14. Plamen Kralev, +3.516s