Baku GP2: Nato tops practice amid mass yellow flags
Racing Engineering driver Norman Nato was the pacesetter in the first timed session at the Baku City Circuit as the GP2 field frequented the run-off areas and yellow flags ran amok.
With cars running in anger at the venue for the first time ever, there were concerns about the possibility of heavy shunts - but while those were alleviated for the moment, it was far from a clean run.
In fact, the virtual safety car arrived less than five minutes into the 45-minute session, with Carlin's Sergio Canamasas spinning around at Turn 16. The Spaniard, however, got back underway in virtually no time.
As waved yellows continued popping up all over the track, there was a worrying moment as Jordan King opted to go into the run-off at Turn 15 - and had to maneuver past a recovery vehicle that had been parked there. The truck would be removed shortly thereafter, its exit necessitating another VSC.
By that point, the timesheets showed a Russian Time 1-2, Raffaele Marciello leading Monaco race winner Artem Markelov.
However, Prema driver Antonio Giovinazzi would soon assume the top spot, eventually lowering the benchmark to a 1m55.519s.
With the session approaching its final minutes, Marciello's run would come to a premature end at Turn 15 - and that corner would also see a Gustav Malja off with less than five minutes to go, necessitating the third appearance of the virtual safety car.
Between the two events, Norman Nato had vaulted to the top of the timesheets at a 1m55.394s - and with the final virtual safety car remaining until the session's end, his time would stand unopposed.
Giovinazzi settled for second, ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, whose ART teammate Nobuharu Matsushita was among those to have abandoned their cars in the run-off.
Pierre Gasly was fourth, with rookies Oliver Rowland and Luca Ghiotto making up the top six.
King, Arthur Pic, Marciello and Canamasas made up the top 10.
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About this article
|Location||Baku City Circuit|
|Drivers||Sergey Sirotkin , Antonio Giovinazzi , Norman Nato|