Monegasque tops session despite extinguisher issue


Charles Leclerc has grabbed the top spot in this morning’s FIA Formula 2 Championship free practice session at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, setting the pace once more despite a problem with his extinguisher meaning he missed most of the session while he team replaced the unit to lead the way ahead of Antonio Fuoco and Oliver Rowland.


The Monegasque driver stopped the clocks at 1:58.177 early in the session, which took place under warm and sunny conditions, usurping Gustav Malja and Rowland from the top of the timesheets and setting a target for his rivals to close. The Briton closed to three tenths of Leclerc’s time two minutes later, with Fuoco shutting the gap down to a tenth just as the fire extinguisher went off in his teammate’s cockpit, forcing him to pit earlier than planned.


The PREMA team swarmed the Monegasque’s car as they worked to remove the hard to access component while the rest of the field came into the pits for their scheduled stops before returning to the circuit for their race runs, with Leclerc unable to do anything other than watch on as the clock ticked down.


He was eventually able to return to the track, but with just 2 minutes remaining in the session Leclerc was unable to cross the line before the chequered flag dropped: his rivals were unable to beat his best time but will have learned a lot about their cars for tomorrow’s race, with the Ferrari Academy driver now forced to use part of this afternoon’s qualifying session to pick up the information he missed this morning.


Behind the top 3 Artem Markelov, Ralph Boschung, Norman Nato, Nyck De Vries and Sean Gelael were well within a second of the top time and will be feeling positive about this afternoon’s qualifying session, with the potential of an advantage over the championship leader in the battle for pole position.


Preliminary Free Practice Classification


  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Charles Leclerc PREMA Racing 1:57.681 7
2. Antonio Fuoco PREMA Racing 1:57.819 17
3. Oliver Rowland DAMS 1:58.015 14
4. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:58.184 12
5. Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1:58.421 15
6. Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1:58.425 18
7. Nyck De Vries Racing Engineering 1:58.469 15
8. Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1:58.565 14
9. Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1:58.596 15
10. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:58.603 15
11. Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1:58.607 16
12. Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1:58.675 12
13. Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 1:58.677 14
14. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:58.767 14
15. Louis Delétraz Rapax 1:58.788 16
16. Robert Visoiu Campos Racing 1:58.805 16
17. Santino Ferrucci Trident 1:58.811 15
18. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:58.881 18
19. Nabil Jeffri Trident 1:59.408 16
20. Roberto Merhi Rapax 1:59.586 14