Sakhir F2: Tsunoda heads practice on Bahrain Outer Loop

Honda and Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda gave himself a boost by topping free practice for the final round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship in Bahrain

Sakhir F2: Tsunoda heads practice on Bahrain Outer Loop

The Japanese Carlin ace, who has an infinitesimally tiny chance of grabbing the title this weekend, ended up a massive 0.228 seconds clear of his closest rival on the 63-second lap of the Bahrain Outer Circuit as he headed free practice for the fifth time this season.

Like all the other leading contenders, Tsunoda set his quickest lap on his opening run, and there were no significant changes to the order over the last 25 minutes of the session.

But while it was a dull period for clock watchers, it was immensely entertaining viewing.

The first session for single-seaters on the Bahrain Outer Circuit highlighted how bumpy the sweeping corners from Turns 4 to 9 are, in particular the sweeping downhill right-hander of Turn 6 - nearly everyone got massively out of shape through this corner, which doubles as the braking zone for the tighter left-handed Turn 7.

Carlin, perhaps benefiting from all its years of F3 experience at the high-speed Thruxton, ended the session with a 1-2, with Tsunoda's fellow Red Bull protege Jehan Daruvala completing a clean sweep for the team.

Luca Ghiotto, so often the man to beat on the full-fat Bahrain grand prix circuit, seems to be on form on this layout too, and he went third quickest in his Hitech Grand Prix car.

Last weekend's Bahrain feature-race winner Felipe Drugovich continued his fine recent form to finish up fourth with MP Motorsport.

Another of the outside title contenders, 2021 Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, was fifth for Hitech, ahead of the ART Grand Prix car of Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong.

Mazepin's 2021 team-mate, championship leader Mick Schumacher, played himself nicely into the weekend by going seventh for Prema Racing, just ahead of Virtuosi Racing's Renault F1 Junior Guanyu Zhou.

Louis Deletraz, spurned by Haas as replacement for Romain Grosjean this weekend to the benefit of fellow reserve Pietro Fittipaldi, was ninth in his Charouz Racing System car.

The Swiss's session featured some aggressive wheel-to-wheel battling with Dan Ticktum, who finished up 11th in his DAMS machine.

The final slot in the top 10 was taken by another title longshot, Prema-run Ferrari protege Robert Shwartzman.

Schumacher's closest rival for the crown, fellow Ferrari junior Callum Ilott, languished in 18th place with Virtuosi.

Ralph Boschung, Williams call-up Jack Aitken's replacement at Campos Racing, did a good job to take 13th in his first action for over 12 months.

The session was red-flagged with four minutes remaining and not restarted after Artem Markelov's HWA Racelab car stopped by the pitwall on the grid with smoke billowing from the rear end.

Sakhir F2 practice results:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 1m03.267s
2 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 0.228s
3 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 0.315s
4 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 0.342s
5 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 0.397s
6 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix 0.605s
7 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 0.609s
8 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi 0.612s
9 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.673s
10 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 0.699s
11 Dan Ticktum DAMS 0.727s
12 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 0.745s
13 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 0.747s
14 Theo Pourchaire BWT HWA RACELAB 0.793s
15 Sean Gelael DAMS 0.798s
16 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System 0.798s
17 Roy Nissany Trident 0.837s
18 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi 0.850s
19 Marino Sato Trident 0.899s
20 Artem Markelov BWT HWA RACELAB 0.985s
21 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing 1.099s
22 Giuliano Alesi MP Motorsport 1.159s

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Series FIA F2
Author Marcus Simmons
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