Vaxiviere at the last minute
Under sunny skies, Oliver Rowland established the first reference time, which was quickly bettered by Nyck de Vries (DAMS). The championship leader answered back and held on to the top spot until the final quarter hour. Matthieu Vaxiviere and Pietro Fantin improved before the Englishman, once again, went faster. But then he was bested by Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing) before Pietro Fantin re-took the lead. But in the end it was Matthieu Vaxiviere who clocked a session best 1:31.232 in the final minute. The Frenchman was followed by Tio Ellinas, Pietro Fantin, rookie Alexander Albon (Lotus) and Oliver Rowland.
In the afternoon, the times rapidly dropped and Alexandre Albon was the first to beat the morning’s best time, just before a stoppage caused by Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). In the final 15 minutes, his team mate Matthieu Vaxiviere improved. Egor Orudzhev then went faster, as he final sprint run began with the Frenchman setting the day’s best lap in 1:29.514. Tom Dillmann and Oliver Rowland followed at less than 3/100ths of a second, while Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) and Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) filled out the top five. Best rookie in the session, Egor Orudzhev was sixth.
Matthieu Vaxiviere : “We worked well today and we showed that we are also fast with the high-downforce set-up. I could have done this afternoon, but I made a dumb mistake in the final sector, whereas I improved in the first and set the best second sector. We have a lot of potential that we will try to implement tomorrow.”
Tom Dillmann : “The day went really well. We have never been as fast right off the truck since the start of the year. It is positive. Right from the first session, we were good on old tyres, like this afternoon. I did put in many laps on fresh rubber, so we can still pick up some time. The dropping of the low-downforce lets us progress faster, although I did like driving with that configuration.”
Oliver Rowland : “It was a good day during which we did some solid race preparation. I didn’t use my new tyres, which makes this result positive. I am pleased with the car, I do need to improve a few things for tomorrow morning, where it should be cooler in qualifying and then we’ll see where we are.”