Formula 2 rookie Lando Norris has topped the times on the first day of pre-season testing, bringing the Carlin name back to the sharp end on its return to the series.

The Brit, who graduated to Formula 2 following his triumph in last season’s European F3 Championship, hit the ground running at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France as he topped the times in the damp morning session before circulating his Carlin in a time of 1m43.095s in the drying afternoon.

The day was punctuated by a smattering of red flag periods as drivers acclimatised to the new Dallara F2/18, with stoppages for Sergio Sette Camara, Santino Ferrucci and Louis Deletraz in the first hour of the session.

Alexander Albon, in action for DAMS, also caused a red flag later in the morning session as he came to a halt with mechanical gremlins.

As the track dried out in the afternoon, the times came tumbling down, with Norris once again showing why he is already an early favourite for the title as he took top honours on his first day of pre-season testing.

Team-mate Sette Camara ended the day third fastest, with Prema Racing’s newest recruit Nyck de Vries the meat in a Carlin sandwich.

Luca Ghiotto, who moved from Russian Time to Campos Racing in the off-season, was fourth fastest with a 1m43.707s ahead of Mercedes F1 reserve driver George Russell, who debuts this season with ART Grand Prix.

Sean Gelael ensured both Premas were in the top six, while new Renault F1 reserve driver Jack Aitken made up for a lack of morning running to end the day seventh overall.

BWT Arden’s Nerei Fukuzumi was eighth fastest on his first day following graduation from GP3, while team-mate Maximilian Gunther and DAMS’ Oliver Rowland rounding out the top 10.