Abu Dhabi F2: Russell tops practice for title decider

Jack Benyon

Russell didn’t quite hook his opening salvo together in his ART Grand Prix-run car, but managed a 1m51.720s early in the session, as the majority of runners then spent half the 45-minute session testing the soft tyre.

Alexander Albon is the only driver who can stop Russell from winning the title, but struggled to put together a quick lap in the early running, with a couple of moments at Turn 14 and Turn 6-7 slowing his forward progress as he had to settle for ninth.

Also struggling was F2 debutant Dan Ticktum, who replaces Maximilian Gunther at Arden this weekend off the back of a second Macau Grand Prix win last week. He propped up the order, 2.5s off Russell’s fastest time.

His car appeared to drop fluid as he pulled out of the pits at the start of the session.

Behind Russell, Antonio Fuoco’s first flying lap was brilliant, and the Ferrari Academy driver steered his a Charouz-run car to second ahead of Campos driver Luca Ghiotto, the latter still searching for a first win of the season.

Honda protege Nirei Fukuzumi put Arden in the top four, ahead of Sochi polesitter Nyck de Vries, who ran wide at Turn 17 to ruin his follow-up lap for the Prema team.

Roberto Merhi – now with Campos after switching from MP for Sochi – headed new Haas F1 junior Louis Deletraz.

Following Deletraz, McLaren’s 2019 F1 driver Lando Norris took eighth after tumbling from an early session-topper, with Albon and Artem Markelov rounding out the top 10.

Markelov’s car appeared extremely lairy, with a number of off track excursions for the Russian driver likely in the last of his five seasons in the championship.

Practice results:

1 8  George Russell   ART Grand Prix 1'51.720  
2 21  Antonio Fuoco  Charouz Racing System 1'51.884 0.164
3 14  Luca Ghiotto   Campos Racing 1'52.315 0.595
4 12  Nirei Fukuzumi   Arden International 1'52.323 0.603
5 4  Nyck de Vries   Prema Powerteam 1'52.386 0.666
6 15  Roberto Merhi   Campos Racing 1'52.395 0.675
7 20  Louis Deletraz  Charouz Racing System 1'52.518 0.798
8 19  Lando Norris   Carlin 1'52.611 0.891
9 5  Alexander Albon   DAMS 1'52.655 0.935
10 1  Artem Markelov   RUSSIAN TIME 1'52.940 1.220
11 7  Jack Aitken   ART Grand Prix 1'53.012 1.292
12 18  Sergio Sette Camara   Carlin 1'53.037 1.317
13 17  Alessio Lorandi   Trident 1'53.216 1.496
14 2  Tadasuke Makino   RUSSIAN TIME 1'53.360 1.640
15 3  Sean Gelael   Prema Powerteam 1'53.398 1.678
16 16  Arjun Maini   Trident 1'53.483 1.763
17 6  Nicholas Latifi   DAMS 1'53.507 1.787
18 10  Niko Kari   MP Motorsport 1'53.605 1.885
19 9  Dorian Boccolacci   MP Motorsport 1'53.875 2.155
20 11  Dan Ticktum   Arden International 1'54.317 2.597