Artem Markelov led team-mate Luca Ghiotto at the top of the timesheet, as Russian Time finished a promising 1-2 in practice ahead of round nine of the Formula 2 championship at Monza.

Markelov appeared at the top of the timesheet with 30 minutes of the session remaining, setting a benchmark time of 1m31.128 which was never eclipsed.

Ghiotto, who will be searching for his first victory of 2017 this weekend, finished the session second. He was 0.234 seconds adrift of Markelov.

Championship leader Charles Leclerc was third having gradually progressed up the timesheet throughout the morning. The Monegasque driver grappled with oversteer during the early runs, demonstrating spectacular car control through the Ascari chicane.

Nobuharu Matsushita finished fourth, while his ART team-mate Alexander Albon was seventh in one of his strongest sessions since returning from injury in July.

Leclerc’s chief championship rival Oliver Rowland managed sixth place behind Nyck De Vries in fifth. Rowland’s DAMS team-mate Nicolas Latifi conversely endured an anonymous outing and ended the morning in 13th place.

Antonio Fuoco had an eventful session en route to tenth place. A trip through the gravel at Lesmo 1 served to demonstrate that his Prema team will have to adjust his car balance prior to qualifying.

Arden’s Sean Gelael – despite undoubtedly being buoyed by news of his upcoming Formula 1 FP1 outings with Toro Rosso – struggled throughout the morning session.

The Indonesian finished bottom of the timesheet. He also suffered a spin at Ascari in the final moments of the session which triggered the deployment of a virtual safety car and essentially called practice to a premature halt.