Trident’s Arjun Maini set the fastest time in the first Formula 2 Friday practice session of the season in Bahrain.
F2 rookie Maini, who was quickest on the second day of the Bahrain test, set a time of 1m44.549s, with Carlin drivers Lando Norris and Sergio Sette Camara in second and third position, Norris finishing 0.051 seconds off the pace and Camara 0.104 seconds adrift.
Both of the Carlin pair briefly led the standings, as did DAMS driver Alexander Albon, who ultimately finished the session fourth fastest.
George Russell, the reigning GP3 champion, was fifth for ART, ahead of the more experienced Artem Markelov and Roberto Merhi, who were sixth and seventh respectively, although Markelov spent most of the session in the pits. Maximilian Gunther, another F2 newcomer, was eighth for Arden.
Prema, the team that took Charles Leclerc to the title last season, struggled. Sean Gelael was 10th quickest, 0.665 seconds off the pace, and Nyck de Vries, one of the title favourites, was only 13th. Both were behind former Prema driver Antonio Fuoco, who was 9th fastest for the new Charouz team.
DAMS, ART and reigning champions Russian Time, who will be expected to fight for the title, all failed to see both cars into the top 10. Jack Aitken was 11th for ART on his debut in the series, narrowly ahead of Nicholas Latifi, while Russian Time’s new recruit Tadasuke Makino was 14th fastest.
Santino Ferrucci, despite his Trident team-mate Maini going quickest, was 16th, but he was only 0.870 seconds off the pace. The standings were rounded off by Ralph Boschung, Nirei Fukuzumi, Louis Deletraz and Roy Nissany.
The session was shortened by a Virtual Safety Car period, used to test the VSC system on the new car. The VSC ended shortly before the checkered flag came out, but none of the 20 drivers managed to improve on their times.