Bahrain F2: Rowland leads first practice of new era

Renault Formula 1 development driver Oliver Rowland topped the first Formula 2 practice session of the 2017 season, which took place in scorching temperatures at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Bahrain F2: Rowland leads first practice of new era
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS

The British driver came out on top of a tight battle for first place, with Russian Time’s Artem Markelov less than a tenth off and the Prema Racing duo of Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco putting in efforts that were just over 0.15s slower than Rowland’s best.

Norman Nato, the winner of the first round of what was then called the GP2 series in 2016, finished fifth, ahead of Luca Ghiotto and Nyck de Vries, who endured a disrupted session for Rapax.

The McLaren F1 junior driver spent the first third of the 45-minute session in the pits before he was finally able to put in timed a lap, but he then twice ground to a halt when he returned to the pitlane and the 22-year-old’s problems eventually forced him to stop his car at Turn 8, which triggered the virtual safety car.

Johnny Cecotto Jr - a veteran of 119 GP2 races - finished eighth fastest for Rapax, with Nobuharu Matsushita and Gustav Malja rounding out the top ten for ART Grand Prix and Racing Engineering respectively.

The best times of the session were set during the early running on the medium Pirelli tyres, as the drivers encountered high track temperatures of 45C.

Several drivers had off-track moments, particularly at Turn 10, with Rowland, Matsushita and Leclerc among those caught out.

Jordan King finished down in 12th place for MP Motorsport, ahead of Rowland’s DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi.

Stefano Coletti, a winner of seven GP2 races, was 16th, and the 2016 Formula V8 and GP3 runners up - Louis Delétraz and Alexander Albon - brought up the rear of the field in 19th and 20th.

Alex Kalinauckas / Autosport

Practice results

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Oliver Rowland DAMS 1'42.221   16
2 Artem Markelov Russian Time 1'42.313 0.092 13
3 Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 1'42.372 0.151 15
4 Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 1'42.381 0.160 12
5 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1'42.594 0.373 13
6 Luca Ghiotto Russian Time 1'42.715 0.494 14
7 Nyck de Vries Rapax 1'43.052 0.831 6
8 Johnny Cecotto Rapax 1'43.146 0.925 16
9 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1'43.213 0.992 15
10 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1'43.230 1.009 14
11 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1'43.260 1.039 15
12 Jordan King MP Motorsport 1'43.265 1.044 15
13 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1'43.323 1.102 15
14 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1'43.355 1.134 13
15 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1'43.479 1.258 12
16 Stefano Coletti Campos Racing 1'43.632 1.411 16
17 Nabil Jeffri Trident 1'43.891 1.670 16
18 Sergio Canamasas Trident 1'43.958 1.737 15
19 Louis Deletraz Racing Engineering 1'44.016 1.795 14
20 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1'44.360 2.139 15
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