Frenchman sets the pace in Sepang
The penultimate round of the 2016 GP2 season kicked off in the best possible way for Series leader Pierre Gasly: the Red Bull protégé set the fastest laptime of the Free Practice session this afternoon at Sepang International Circuit with a laptime of 1:42.352. Antonio Giovinazzi and Raffaele Marciello completed the top three.
The session opened in hot temperatures as the twenty-one drivers fed onto the track on Hard Pirelli tyres. DAMS’ driver Nicholas Latifi set the early pace with a laptime of 1:44.381 but he did not remain top for long as Gasly soon went P1 with a laptime of 1:43.748. His teammate and closest title rival Giovinazzi moved up to P2, 0.6s slower than Gasly.
With twenty-one minutes left on the clock, the Frenchman bettered his own laptime in a 1:42.577 and remained unchallenged at the top of the standings. With three green sectors, Giovinazzi also improved on his own personal best and closed the gap to Gasly but it was not enough to take P1.
The session was trouble-free while all of the drivers were focused on learning this layout – a new venue for most of them. Gasly had a small scare after he locked up and went off at Turn 9 but he re-joined safely. In the dying minutes, Giovinazzi found again some extra pace to close the gap to Gasly, only 0.123s adrift of the Frenchman.
At the chequered flag, Marciello, Jordan King, Norman Nato, Oliver Rowland, Artem Markelov, Nobuharu Matsushita, Luca Ghiotto and Alex Lynn completed the top ten. As the weather is known for being unpredictable in Malaysia, tomorrow’s Qualifying session promises to deliver great battles.
Sepang, Malaysia – Free Practice
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Pierre Gasly
PREMA Racing
1:42.352
12
2.
Antonio Giovinazzi
PREMA Racing
1:42.475
13
3.
Raffaele Marciello
RUSSIAN TIME
1:42.894
13
4.
Jordan King
Racing Engineering
1:42.896
13
5.
Norman Nato
Racing Engineering
1:42.933
13
6.
Oliver Rowland
MP Motorsport
1:43.130
14
7.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:43.135
13
8.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:43.204
13
9.
Luca Ghiotto
Trident
1:43.212
13
10.
Alex Lynn
DAMS
1:43.450
13
11.
Mitch Evans
Pertamina Campos Racing
1:43.578
13
12.
Sergey Sirotkin
ART Grand Prix
1:43.857
9
13.
Sergio Canamasas
Carlin
1:43.876
12
14.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
1:43.928
14
15.
Marvin Kirchhöfer
Carlin
1:44.161
13
16.
Gustav Malja
Rapax
1:44.195
14
17.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Campos Racing
1:44.215
14
18.
Nabil Jeffri
Arden International
1:44.232
13
19
Daniël de Jong
MP Motorsport
1:44.381
13
20.
Philo Paz Armand
Trident
1:44.384
13
21.
Johnny Cecotto Jr
Rapax
1:44.687
12