Formula Two returned from a two month break with the opening day of their two part finale as drivers battled for the first pole of two rounds in Bahrain.
Nine drivers are still in with a shot of the title on a day which saw rain linger throughout Practice before clearing for Qualifying, whilst red flags disrupted both sessions and played a huge role in a title fight twist affecting one of the drivers primed for a F1 seat next season.
Now here is a full roundup of Friday’s F2 action across Practice and Qualifying which threw up mixed orders across both sessions.
Start of F2 Practice experienced a five minute delay due to the late release of drivers from the support paddock with Jack Aitken, Giuliano Alesi and Louis Deletraz amongst the early drivers to head out for their opening stints, which saw a virtual safety car test held as is tradition to check the system over as rain lingered throughout the session.
Alesi soon proceeded to set the initial pace until HWA Racelab’s Artem Markelov spun at Turn 15 to cause the first of two red flags which lasted five minutes each, stalling his car in the wrong direction only for it to then roll across the track into the inside barriers once Markelov had climbed out of the car.
Once the track went green again, ART’s Christian Lundgaard set the pace with a 1m 43.108 from teammate, Marcus Armstrong but Trident’s Marino Sato spun at the final corner like Markelov did, beaching his car on the kerb to cause another red flag.
Practice resumed five minutes later with Roy Nissany spinning on the exit of Turn Eight and almost collected one of the Carlin cars as he tried to find the correct direction to get going again, as Jehan Daruvala went fastest with a 1m 42.989 ahead of Lundgaard until Dan Ticktum trumped both just a minute later to go 0.023 seconds quicker than Daruvala’s best effort.
Daruvala however found time with 12 minutes left to improve to a 1m 42.782 but just four minutes later, title contender – Nikita Mazepin set a session topping time of 1m 42.660 to go 0.122s quicker than the Carlin driver.
Tsunoda eventually settled for third fastest ahead of Ticktum, Lundgaard, Luca Ghiotto, Robert Shwartzman, Guanyu Zhou, Felipe Drugovich and championship leader – Mick Schumacher who rounded out the top ten with 0.512s separating the drivers inside those positions.
UNI-Virtuosi’s Callum Ilott endured a quiet session as he set the 14th fastest time which was 0.831s slower than Mazepin’s pace but was just 0.319s off Schumacher’s best effort as Ilott looked to save his best for Qualifying in an attempt to trim his points deficit to 18 points if could get pole position.
Drugovich led a frantic line of drivers desperate to hit the track whilst Ilott waited to create some clean space before joining the action, as Armstrong set the initial pace of a 1m 42.052 ahead of Drugovich and Ticktum until Ilott went top with a pole clinching time of 1m 41.479.
Third-placed title contender, Tsunoda meanwhile suffered a massive spin at Turn 13 after getting wide on the exit of Turn 12 and was unable to keep the engine fully running, ultimately triggering a red flag to end his session and leave the Japanese’s FIA Superlicense hopes hanging in the balance.
Once the session resumed, everyone headed back out for a final flier on their first set of tyres with Drugovich and Ticktum finding time to go second and third ahead of Armstrong and Zhou, whilst Schumacher found himself sat 12th ahead of the final runs.
Once everyone began their final fliers, Schumacher improved to sixth but eventually got displaced to tenth by Giuliano Alesi, Mazepin, Daruvala and Lundgaard in a frustrating dent to his title hopes as Ilott trimmed his deficit to 18 points with four points by virtue of his fifth pole of 2020.
Further down the order, Deletraz and Shwartzman qualified only 11th and 14th respectively whilst Ghiotto managed 20th at best to leave the trio’s title hopes hanging by a thread heading into Saturday’s Feature Race.
Alesi concluded the session early by stopping with a technical issue in the first sector which brought out the red flag with just over a minute left.
|1||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||1m 42.660|
|2||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||+ 0.122|
|3||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||+ 0.258|
|4||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||+ 0.305|
|5||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||+ 0.404|
|6||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||+ 0.419|
|7||Robert Shwartzman||Prema||+ 0.440|
|8||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||+ 0.468|
|9||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+ 0.482|
|10||Mick Schumacher||Prema||+ 0.512|
|11||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||+ 0.541|
|12||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||+ 0.610|
|13||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||+ 0.830|
|14||Callum Ilott||UNI-Virtuosi||+ 0.831|
|15||Giuliano Alesi||MP Motorsport||+ 1.175|
|16||Jack Aitken||Campos||+ 1.349|
|17||Theo Pourchaire||HWA Racelab||+ 1.760|
|18||Roy Nissany||Trident||+ 2.255|
|19||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||+ 2.586|
|20||Sean Gelael||DAMS||+ 17.590|
|Marino Sato||Trident||No Time Set|
|Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||No Time Set|
|1||Callum Ilott||UNI-Virtuosi||1m 41.479|
|2||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+ 0.391|
|3||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||+ 0.568|
|4||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||+ 0.573|
|5||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||+ 0.586|
|6||Giuliano Alesi||MP Motorsport||+ 0.595|
|7||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||+ 0.660|
|8||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||+ 0.712|
|9||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||+ 0.780|
|10||Mick Schumacher||Prema||+ 0.804|
|11||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||+ 0.837|
|12||Roy Nissany||Trident||+ 0.859|
|13||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||+ 1.002|
|14||Robert Shwartzman||Prema||+ 1.175|
|15||Jack Aitken||Campos||+ 1.369|
|16||Theo Pourchaire||HWA Racelab||+ 1.488|
|17||Marino Sato||Trident||+ 1.691|
|18||Sean Gelael||DAMS||+ 1.712|
|19||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||+ 1.807|
|20||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||+ 1.887|
|21||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||+ 2.540|
|22||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||No Time Set|