Leclerc quickest on opening day of Bahrain F2 test



Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc inherited the top spot on the opening day of F2 testing in Bahrain, as initial pace-setter Nobuharu Matsushita lost his time over a red flag infringement.

GP3 champion Leclerc, who will contest the 2017 F2 campaign with reigning champion outfit Prema, had topped the morning session with a 1m41.454s effort.

And that lap looked to be good enough to leave him first at day’s end, as rain arrived shortly after the midday break.

However, while the majority of the afternoon session featured wet running, the track dried significantly by the end, and a late red flag for Russian Time’s Artem Markelov left room for a last-minute run.

It was enough for Matsushita to vault to the top, the Japanese driver posting a 1m41.165s benchmark.

But following the session, the McLaren protege’s lap was invalidated as he was found to have not respected red flag proceedings.

As such, Leclerc – who didn’t get a chance to improve late on – returned to the top spot, while Jordan King moved up to second, 0.18s off.

Russian Time’s Luca Ghiotto and Arden’s Barcelona test pace-setter Norman Nato were third and fourth, while Matsushita’s original best time from the morning proved good enough for fifth.

Despite not getting a chance to improve late on, Leclerc remained second, while MP Motorsport’s Jordan King made up the overall top three, just ahead of Russian Time’s Luca Ghiotto and Arden’s Catalunya test pace-setter Norman Nato.

DAMS duo Oliver Rowland and Nicholas Latifi were sixth and seventh, with Matsushita’s ART teammate Alex Albon, Rapax’s Nyck de Vries and Prema’s Antonio Fuoco making up the top 10.

Louis Deletraz (Racing Engineering) and Johnny Cecotto (Rapax) were originally in the top 10 on the strength of their afternoon laps, but both lost their best efforts for the same reason as Matsushita.

Campos Racing’s new test driver Raoul Hyman, who stepped in for ex-F1 driver Roberto Merhi in Bahrain, completed the running order in the morning and was seventh in the afternoon.

Day 1 test results: