F2 Jeddah: Shwartzman pips Boschung in delayed practice

Robert Shwartzman emerged fastest from a significantly delayed and red flag interrupted FIA Formula 2 Championship practice session at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

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Shwartzman spent the majority of an eventful 45 minute session in second before a final 1m42.6263s effort pipped Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung by 0.184s.

A flurry of late times elevated new Formula E recruit Dan Ticktum to third for Carlin ahead of UNI Virtuosi’s Felipe Drugovich, while Marcus Armstrong starred late on top claim fifth.

Championship leader Oscar Piastri rounded out the top 10 while title rival Guanyu Zhou was seventh fastest.

Opening practice underwent a series of delays eventually starting 50 minutes after its original start time.

The field was scheduled to begin its session at 1345 local time but was pushed back to 1410 before further delays occurred.

F2 teams made their way to the pit lane following the end of the Porsche session before the FIA flagged that Practice 1 “will be delayed until further notice”. It has since been confirmed to Motorsport.com cited “operational delays” as the reason for the lack of track action.

Once action did get underway it was debutant Clement Novalak that posted the first benchmark time with a 1m48.217s which was almost a second faster than fellow F2 rookie Jack Doohan after his first flying lap.

As the track surface continued to rubber up, times began to tumble as Boschung shot to the top of the times with a 1m45.441s on medium tyres 10 minutes into the session.

That effort was pipped by Liam Lawson before Boschung responded by dipping into the 1m44s bracket as Juri Vips slotted into second some eight tenths adrift of the Campos Racing driver.

Prema’s Shwartzman was next to trouble Boschung’s benchmark firing in a time 0.030s slower than the Swiss driver.

However, action was halted with 27 minutes remaining when F2 debutant Logan Sargeant brought out the red flags after a high-speed crash at Turn 22.

The American, sitting 19th on the timesheet, lost the rear of his HWA before firing rearwards into the barriers, causing heavy damage to the rear of the car. The Williams Formula 1 junior climbed out of the cockpit under this own power.

Boschung headed the times from Shwartzman, Vips, Lawson and Theo Pourchaire as the field returned to pit lane to await the restart. Championship leader Piastri was down in 18th, four seconds adrift, while rival Zhou was eight tenths further back in 21st spot.

Zhou logged an indicative time once action resumes jumping into eighth.

Behind, the yellow flags flew for Vips, who was lucky to escape a full 360 degree spin at Turn 17. Less lucky was HWA's Alessio Deledda as he found the wall at Turn 1 under brakes putting him out of the session, an incident that required the virtual safety car to be deployed.

A flurry of times arrived in the closing minutes resulting in Boschung lowering his benchmark, but it wasn’t enough to end the session on top as Shwartzman eclipsed the time with his final lap.

Ticktum briefly held second but was left to settle for third as Drugovich, Armstrong, Vips and Zhou improved.

Doohan was the fastest of the F2 debutants in eighth for MP Motorsport, while fellow newcomers Olli Caldwell and Novalak were 15th and 16th respectively.

Christian Lundgaard was ninth ahead of Piastri. Race winner Pourchaire could only clock a time good enough for 13th position.

The F2 field will return for qualifying at 1820 local time (1520 GMT).

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