Pre-season testing in GP2 has concluded in Bahrain today, after a three-day test in the desert circuit saw a mix of drivers come out on top of the time sheets. Red Bull proteges Alex Lynn and Pierre Gasly both showed their hands in the DAMS car notably throughout the three days, with Lynn setting his quickest time on the morning of todays session on a 1:39.884 and Gasly also going quickest of all today by about two tenths of a second.
Last years race winner at Bahrain Stoffel Vandoorne was second fastest today in his ART, setting at time that is just a hundredth off Gasly’s on a 1:39.646 in clear air. Both had completed the same amount of laps in the morning session, before track temperatures rose for the afternoon part of the session which seemed to have an effect on the pace – which dropped by about two seconds.
Drivers had the freedom of all four sets of dry Pirelli tyres available to them, with many electing to run the Soft compound runner in the afternoon part of the session when the track was rubbered in and temperatures were reasonably high. 2013 constructors champions Russian Time showed some competitive pace with GP2 race winner Mitch Evans and Artem Markelov at the wheel. Both were comfortably within the top ten throughout the three days, with Evans setting his fastest lap today on a 1:39.679 – again not far off the pace set by DAMS.
Racing Engineering’s Alexander Rossi was fourth fastest in this mornings session, a tenth off the time set by Gasly with Raffaele Marciello fifth fastest in the Trident on a 1:39.720. Manor GP reserve Jordan King showed some promising pace with Racing Engineering on the first day, going fastest in the afternoon session ahead of Evans who was fastest in the opening morning session on that day.
Meanwhile Campos’ Arthur Pic was 10th fastest today having completed 21 laps in the morning session. He was posting some consistent times throughout the week, getting into the top ten on all but one occasion. Other notable drivers include Richie Stanaway. Whilst he was largely in the bottom end of the time sheets in the Status GP car, he was never the less putting in the milage completing 66 laps on day three.
Rather interestingly he set the early pace on day two of the test after a sandstorm hit the circuit and forced the morning session to start and hour later as most of the teams cleaned their pit boxes and organisers set about cleaning the track. Most elected to focus on pitstop practice and start procedures, including Stanaway who didn’t run on track at all in the morning.
ART’s Nobuharu Matsushita ended up setting the pace on Day Two, posting a lap time of 1:40.191 on the Soft tyre compound after completing 31 laps. Pic also found some extra pace to beat Marciello to P2 in the closing stages of that session, with Vandoorne and De Jong rounding out to top five.
So it seems the times set in todays morning session show a glimpse at the true pace of the teams, with DAMS still looking like they are in the running alongside ART. Trident and Racing Engineering also look competitive, with Russian Time also posting in come consistent lap times along with Campos.
The 2015 GP2 campaign kicks off on the weekend of the Bahrain Grand Prix on 17th to 19th of April.
Image credit: GP2 Series