Baku GP2: Nato tops practice amid mass yellow flags

Racing Engineering driver Norman Nato was the pacesetter in the first timed session at the Baku City Circuit as the GP2 field frequented the run-off areas and yellow flags ran amok.

Baku GP2: Nato tops practice amid mass yellow flags

With cars running in anger at the venue for the first time ever, there were concerns about the possibility of heavy shunts - but while those were alleviated for the moment, it was far from a clean run.

In fact, the virtual safety car arrived less than five minutes into the 45-minute session, with Carlin's Sergio Canamasas spinning around at Turn 16. The Spaniard, however, got back underway in virtually no time.

As waved yellows continued popping up all over the track, there was a worrying moment as Jordan King opted to go into the run-off at Turn 15 - and had to maneuver past a recovery vehicle that had been parked there. The truck would be removed shortly thereafter, its exit necessitating another VSC.

By that point, the timesheets showed a Russian Time 1-2, Raffaele Marciello leading Monaco race winner Artem Markelov.

However, Prema driver Antonio Giovinazzi would soon assume the top spot, eventually lowering the benchmark to a 1m55.519s.

With the session approaching its final minutes, Marciello's run would come to a premature end at Turn 15 - and that corner would also see a Gustav Malja off with less than five minutes to go, necessitating the third appearance of the virtual safety car.

Between the two events, Norman Nato had vaulted to the top of the timesheets at a 1m55.394s - and with the final virtual safety car remaining until the session's end, his time would stand unopposed.

Giovinazzi settled for second, ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, whose ART teammate Nobuharu Matsushita was among those to have abandoned their cars in the run-off.

Pierre Gasly was fourth, with rookies Oliver Rowland and Luca Ghiotto making up the top six.

King, Arthur Pic, Marciello and Canamasas made up the top 10.

Practice results

Pos.DriverTeamTimeGap
1 Norman Nato Racing Engineering 1'55.394  
2 Antonio Giovinazzi Prema Powerteam 1'55.719 0.325
3 Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix 1'56.093 0.699
4 Pierre Gasly Prema Powerteam 1'56.464 1.070
5 Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport 1'56.871 1.477
6 Luca Ghiotto Trident 1'57.059 1.665
7 Jordan King Racing Engineering 1'57.091 1.697
8 Arthur Pic Rapax 1'57.438 2.044
9 Raffaele Marciello RUSSIAN TIME 1'57.464 2.070
10 Sergio Canamasas Carlin 1'57.538 2.144
11 Marvin Kirchhofer Carlin 1'57.585 2.191
12 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1'57.587 2.193
13 Mitch Evans Pertamina Campos Racing 1'57.799 2.405
14 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1'58.397 3.003
15 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1'58.432 3.038
16 Gustav Malja Rapax 1'58.808 3.414
17 Alex Lynn DAMS 1'59.723 4.329
18 Philo Paz Armand Trident 1'59.757 4.363
19 Jimmy Eriksson Arden International 2'00.493 5.099
20 Nabil Jeffri Arden International 2'00.561 5.167
21 Sean Gelael Pertamina Campos Racing 2'00.769 5.375
22 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 2'01.794 6.400

 

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