Monza F2: Markelov leads Russian Time one-two in practice

Russian Time drivers Artem Markelov and Luca Ghiotto topped Formula 2 practice at Monza ahead of championship leader Charles Leclerc

Monza F2: Markelov leads Russian Time one-two in practice

ART Grand Prix and McLaren-Honda Formula 1 junior drivers Nobuharu Matsushita and Nyck de Vries completed the top five, ahead of Leclerc's closest title rival Oliver Rowland in sixth.

The 45-minute session got under way with spots of rain falling at the northern Italian circuit, but the rain did not intensify and the drivers were able to complete their running on the dry medium compound Pirelli tyres, with the sun later emerging and temperatures rising.

Matsushita topped the early times despite nearly running off-track going through the second part of the Ascari chicane as he fought oversteer - a problem that plagued several drivers throughout the session.

Leclerc bounced across the kerbs at the exit of the Roggia chicane on his first run and could only slot into third behind Matsushita and de Vries.

Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Leclerc, who leads Rowland by 54 points with just three rounds of the season remaining, held two massive slides going through Ascari on his next run and could not get his Prema Racing-run car to the top of the standings.

Markelov moved to the head of the timesheets after one-third of the session had been completed with a 1m31.128s lap that was not beaten.

Leclerc responded with a purple sector in the first part of the lap but wound up 0.239 seconds adrift of Markelov, who enters the weekend third in the standings and nine points behind Rowland, before Ghiotto slotted in ahead of Leclerc in second place.

After the traditional mid-session lull in activity, the drivers focused on long-run data gathering and there were few improvements thereafter.

Rowland was another driver fighting his car going through Ascari - he also went through the Parabolica with all four wheels off the track at one stage - and ended up sixth, 0.386s behind Markelov, for DAMS.

Alexander Albon briefly topped the times during the early running but finished seventh for ART, ahead of Jordan King and Louis Deletraz.

Antonio Fuoco rounded out the top 10 for Prema, the Ferrari F1 junior escaping the gravel at the first Lesmo after getting a snap of oversteer going through the right-hander.

Norman Nato ended up 11th in front of Ralph Boschung, Nicholas Latifi in the second DAMS-run car, Gustav Malja and former F1 driver Roberto Merhi, who again replaces Sergio Canamasas at the Rapax squad.

Spa sprint race winner Sergio Sette Camara was 16th and the field was completed by Arden International's Sean Gelael, who caused the virtual safety car to be deployed in the closing minutes of the session when he stopped - facing the wrong way - beside the second part of Ascari, and could not get going again.

Free practice times

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1m31.128s - 16
2 Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 1m31.362s 0.234s 19
3 Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 1m31.367s 0.239s 18
4 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1m31.406s 0.278s 17
5 Nyck de Vries Racing Engineering 1m31.446s 0.318s 17
6 Oliver Rowland DAMS 1m31.514s 0.386s 18
7 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1m31.516s 0.388s 18
8 Jordan King MP Motorsport 1m31.657s 0.529s 20
9 Louis Deletraz Rapax 1m31.671s 0.543s 19
10 Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 1m31.727s 0.599s 19
11 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1m31.744s 0.616s 19
12 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1m31.793s 0.665s 17
13 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1m32.064s 0.936s 19
14 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1m32.095s 0.967s 16
15 Roberto Merhi Rapax 1m32.107s 0.979s 16
16 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1m32.131s 1.003s 18
17 Santino Ferrucci Trident 1m32.300s 1.172s 21
18 Robert Visoiu Campos Racing 1m32.543s 1.415s 18
19 Nabil Jeffri Trident 1m32.822s 1.694s 21
20 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1m32.839s 1.711s 16


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