Abu Dhabi F2: 2019 Williams F1 driver Russell starts decider on top

Points leader and future Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell started his championship bid in perfect fashion by topping the Formula 2 free practice session in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi F2: 2019 Williams F1 driver Russell starts decider on top

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 that will be the most durable in Saturday and Sunday's races.

Alexander Albon is the only driver who can stop Russell from achieving the F2 title, but the Toro Rosso 2019 contender struggled to put together a quick lap in the early running.

A couple of moments at the tight Turn 14 left-hander and Turn 6-7 complex onto the long straight slowed his forward progress as he had to settle for ninth - nearly a second off the pace.

Also struggling was F2 race-weekend debutante Dan Ticktum.

The Red Bull F1 junior replaces Maxi Gunther at Arden this weekend off the back of a second Macau Grand Prix win last week, but bookended the order 2.5s away from Russell's fastest time.

Ticktum's 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 - who is still searching for a first win of the season. He completed the most number of laps in the session.

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

Roberto Merhi - now with Campos after switching from MP for Sochi - headed new Haas junior Louis Deletraz in sixth and seventh in a field that now has 14 out of 20 drivers affiliated with an F1 team.

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

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

Practice times

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 George Russell ART Grand Prix 1m51.720s - 19
2 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 1m51.884s 0.164s 18
3 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 1m52.315s 0.595s 20
4 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 1m52.323s 0.603s 15
5 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1m52.386s 0.666s 16
6 Roberto Merhi Campos Vexatec Racing 1m52.395s 0.675s 19
7 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 1m52.518s 0.798s 17
8 Lando Norris Carlin 1m52.611s 0.891s 18
9 Alexander Albon DAMS 1m52.655s 0.935s 17
10 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1m52.940s 1.220s 16
11 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 1m53.012s 1.292s 18
12 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 1m53.037s 1.317s 18
13 Alessio Lorandi Trident 1m53.216s 1.496s 18
14 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 1m53.360s 1.640s 17
15 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1m53.398s 1.678s 16
16 Arjun Maini Trident 1m53.483s 1.763s 17
17 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1m53.507s 1.787s 18
18 Niko Kari MP Motorsport 1m53.605s 1.885s 18
19 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 1m53.875s 2.155s 17
20 Dan Ticktum BWT Arden 1m54.317s 2.597s 18


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F2 Abu Dhabi: 2019 Williams driver Russell close to title with pole

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Series FIA F2
Drivers George Russell
Author Jack Benyon
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