Abu Dhabi GP2: Red Bull's Gasly tops practice for finale

Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly started his bid to overhaul Prema team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi and win the GP2 title by topping practice for the Abu Dhabi season finale

Abu Dhabi GP2: Red Bull's Gasly tops practice for finale

Gasly, overlooked for a 2017 Toro Rosso Formula 1 drive, trails Giovinazzi by seven points.

The 20-year-old claimed top spot inside the first 15 minutes with a time of 1m51.096s, despite being one of many to have lurid moments on what appeared to be a slippery track surface.

That stood until Giovinazzi improved to a 1m51.067s with a little over 10 minutes to go, which put Giovinazzi 0.029 seconds up.

Gasly responsed quickly, setting the weekend's first sub-1m51s lap, a 1m50.940s.

His new benchmark stood for the rest of the session, with DAMS driver Alex Lynn popping into second place inside the final five minutes with a 1m51.002s.

That demoted Giovinazzi to third, 0.127s slower than his team-mate, although a run of other quick laps suggests he has consistently strong pace on the prime medium Pirelli.

Nobuharu Matsushita led the way briefly early in the 45 minutes but did not improve thereafter and wound up fourth.

The only other driver in - albeit slim - title contention Raffaele Marciello set the 11th-fastest time.

Marciello is 39 points behind Giovinazzi in the championship, and essentially needs to win both races with neither Prema driver scoring any points.

Racing Engineering team-mates Norman Nato and Jordan King were fifth and seventh, split by Oliver Rowland, while Johnny Cecotto Jr, Sergey Sirotkin and Nicholas Latifi rounded out the top 10.

The only driver to strike trouble was Mitch Evans, whose Campos Racing-run Dallara stopped at Turn 7 midway through the session.

The Jaguar Formula E racer wound up in 14th place, two spots ahead of Emil Bernstorff on debut with Arden.

Making his first GP2 appearance with Carlin, Renault protege and Formula V8 3.5 runner-up Louis Deletraz finished the session in 21st place, 2.710s off the pace set by Gasly.

PRACTICE RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Pierre Gasly Prema Racing 1m50.940s - 16
2 Alex Lynn DAMS 1m51.002s 0.062s 18
3 Antonio Giovinazzi Prema Racing 1m51.067s 0.127s 19
4 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1m51.149s 0.209s 19
5 Norman Nato Racing Engineering 1m51.687s 0.747s 17
6 Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport 1m51.700s 0.760s 18
7 Jordan King Racing Engineering 1m51.795s 0.855s 16
8 Johnny Cecotto Jr. Rapax 1m51.873s 0.933s 18
9 Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix 1m51.892s 0.952s 17
10 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1m51.964s 1.024s 18
11 Raffaele Marciello RUSSIAN TIME 1m52.005s 1.065s 17
12 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1m52.281s 1.341s 17
13 Sergio Canamasas Carlin 1m52.385s 1.445s 17
14 Mitch Evans Pertamina Campos Racing 1m52.477s 1.537s 7
15 Luca Ghiotto Trident 1m52.664s 1.724s 17
16 Emil Bernstorff Arden International 1m52.751s 1.811s 20
17 Gustav Malja Rapax 1m52.762s 1.822s 19
18 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1m52.987s 2.047s 17
19 Sean Gelael Pertamina Campos Racing 1m53.077s 2.137s 15
20 Nabil Jeffri Arden International 1m53.185s 2.245s 16
21 Louis Deletraz Carlin 1m53.650s 2.710s 17
22 Philo Paz Armand Trident 1m53.808s 2.868s 18

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