Julian Leal has returned to GP2 after the summer break in fine form: the Colombian driver set the fastest laptime of today’s free practice session at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in a 1:57.877 ahead of Johnny Cecotto and Ferrari protégé Raffaele Marciello.
The eighth round of the 2014 season opened in Belgium in cool temperature, but on a dry track with all twenty-six drivers trying to warm up their Pirelli Hard compounds. It was Series leader Jolyon Palmer who set the early pace with a laptime one tenth of a second quicker than title rival Felipe Nasr. However, the Briton’s time was soon bettered by Sergio Canamasas who then lost the top spot to Nathanaël Berthon.
With ten minutes down into the session, Cecotto went top ahead of Leal who lapped the Belgian track one tenth of a second slower than the Venezuelan driver. But mid-session, the Carlin man was able to find some extra pace: he dipped under 1m58s and would remain top until the end.
The session was trouble free, but eleven minutes before the end, Stefano Coletti ran a bit too wide at Turn 14, spun and eventually stopped on track which ended his session prematurely. A red flag came out whilst the marshals retrieved his Racing Engineering car. At the restart, there were four minutes left on the clock which was just enough time for an outlap followed by a push lap, but Leal remained P1 at the chequered flag ahead of Cecotto and Marciello. Berthon finished fourth ahead of his teammate Conor Daly who moved up to fifth place on his last lap. Local star Stoffel Vandoorne, Canamasas, Coletti, Stéphane Richelmi and Mitch Evans completed the top ten.
Spa-Francorchamps – Free Practice
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Julian Leal Carlin 1:57.877 12
2. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:58.030 11
3. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1:58.265 14
4. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:58.291 15
5. Conor Daly Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:58.302 14
6. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:58.339 13
7. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:58.370 13
8. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:58.374 11
9. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:58.399 14
10. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:58.439 14
11. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax 1:58.454 12
12. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:58.462 14
13. Marco Sorensen MP Motorsport 1:58.487 13
14. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:58.658 10
15. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:58.787 13
16. Rio Haryanto EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:58.800 13
17. Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 1:58.889 12
18. Tom Dillmann EQ8 Caterham Racing 1:58.923 13
19 Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:58.943 14
20. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:59.020 12
21. Rene Binder Arden International 1:59.167 14
22. Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:59.179 14
23. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:59:311 13
24. André Negrao Arden International 1:59.463 12
25. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:59.531 12
26. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:59.564 11