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THREE TAKEAWAYS: 2017 Formula 2 First Test

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History has been made this week as the third version of Formula 2 in motorsport history got underway with testing ahead of the 2017 season.

The 20-driver grid has taken to the track for the first time this year between March 13-15 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to get their first feelings of their package ahead of the season starting in Bahrain on April 14-16.

To try and find clues for this year’s potential champion, we’ve examined some of the numbers from the first of the two pre-season tests.

Sometimes it is easy to see who could be a contender for the championship through monitoring lap times. Last year, Prema’s Pierre Gasly, who went on to win the title, was incredibly quick in the first test in Barcelona, finishing all six sessions in the top two of the timings.

Nato on Top

The final day of the test saw many of the fastest lap times being set, with Arden’s Norman Nato setting the fastest time of the whole test with a 1m27.834s. DAMS’ Oliver Rowland and ART’s Alexander Albon were the other two drivers to lap within the 1m27s during the final morning.

Rapax’s Nyck de Vries was the fastest man in the 1m28 bracket, ahead of Russian Time’s Luca Ghiotto and Artem Markelov and his team-mate Johnny Cecotto Jr. Cecotto was one of two drivers not to improve his best overall time on the final day.

Sean Gelael put a second Arden car into the top eight of the best times, ahead of DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi and the Prema duo of Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco. MP Motorsport’s Sergio Sette Camara was ahead of Campos’ Ralph Boschung and MP team-mate Jordan King – the other driver not to better his personal best time on day three.

Racing Engineering’s Louis Deletraz and Gustav Malja’s fastest laps put them ahead of Trident’s Sergio Canamasas and ART’s Nobuharu Matsushita, while Campos’ Roberto Merhi and Trident’s Nabil Jeffri could only get their fastest laps to a 1m29.

ART With Most Laps

ART Grand Prix was the dominant team in managing to gather the most laps on the Barcelona track. Albon (232) and Matsushita (222) had the most individual laps to give the team a total of 454 over the three days.

Racing Engineering had the next best total, with Deletraz (210) and Malja (190) ahead of Prema, who had Leclerc complete 194 and Fuoco lap the circuit 196 times.

Russian Time is fourth on the list with a total of 374 (Markelov 201, Ghiotto 173), with Arden fifth on 374 (Nato 181, Gelael 175), Campos sixth on 333 (Boschung 188, Merhi 145) and MP seventh on 330 (Sette Camara 172, King 158).

A total of 326 laps puts DAMS eighth (Latifi 168, Rowland 158), placing above Rapax on 299 (de Vries 160, Cecotto 139) and Trident on 298 (Canamasas 151, Jeffri 147).

Canamasas Leads Team-Mate Rivalry

Based on the average six best lap times across the three morning and afternoon sessions, Canamasas has the highest advantage over team-mate Jeffri, finishing being an average of 1.332s faster than the Malaysian. The Spanish driver had faster times than his rival over all six sessions, the only driver to complete this achievement.

King was next best compared to his main rival Sette Camara, completing the test averaging 1.095s faster than the Brazilian. Ghiotto outperformed his team-mate Markelov by an average time of 0.811s. Both King and Ghiotto had faster times over four of the six sessions.

Rowland’s average was being 0.527s faster than Latifi, while Malja leads Deletraz by an average of 0.486s. Boschung’s fastest laps give him an average of 0.486s versus Merhi, with Cecotto’s best times give him an average advantage of 0.312s over de Vries.

The tightest battles come between the ART, Arden and Prema drivers. Albon’s average over Matsushita is 0.255s, while Nato leads Gelael by 0.182s and Leclerc scrapes ahead of Fuoco by the margin of just 0.007s.

What’s Next?

Many of the drivers will return to the track for the final three days of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 29-31, with question marks only over who will be confirmed as the second driver at Trident and Campos.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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Cameron Paterson

Cameron Paterson has been a watcher of Formula 1 since 2007, a casual television watch evolved to watching and reading anything related to something with wheels and an engine. A fan of writing, it was a no-brainer about what to do to try and get into motorsport, consistently discussing things about this great sport since 2016.