McLaren junior Matsushita tops first day of F2 testing

McLaren test and development driver Nobuharu Matsushita led an ART Grand Prix 1-2 on the opening day of Formula 2 pre-season testing in Barcelona.

McLaren junior Matsushita tops first day of F2 testing
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Johnny Cecotto, Rapax
Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix
Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering
Nyck De Vries, Rapax

Matsushita, who has been a Honda protege for several seasons and was recently handed a McLaren F1 role, lapped the Spanish circuit in 1m29.061s in the afternoon session as F2 kicked off its new era, following the series' recent rebranding.

The morning session of the day, meanwhile, had gone to Johnny Cecotto – the new signing of Italian team Rapax and the most experienced driver in the history of F2's predecessor category GP2.

The Venezuelan put in a 1m29.239s lap, finishing the session a tenth up on Oliver Rowland, with Matsushita, Cecotto's rookie teammate Nyck de Vries and Norman Nato making up the top five.

Cecotto's time remained as the benchmark until an hour into the afternoon running, when Matsushita recorded his best lap of the day.

The Japanese driver's effort – 0.011s quicker than what former teammate Sergey Sirotkin managed on the opening day of the Barcelona test last year – was enough to keep him top at the chequered flag.

Alexander Albon, GP3 runner-up and Matsushita's new teammate, moved to within a tenth of the Japanese driver's time in the final hour to make up an ART 1-2.

His time was matched exactly by Nato late on, with Racing Engineering's Gustav Malja a close fourth and Cecotto making up the top five.

Reigning team champion Prema, which is fielding an all-rookie line-up with two Ferrari juniors this year, was headed by Charles Leclerc in 12th in the day's combined timesheets.

Ex-F1 driver Roberto Merhi, testing with Campos Racing with a view to race in the series, was last.

Day 1 results

Pos. Driver Team AM PM
1 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:29.552 1:29.061
2 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1:30.018 1:29.157
3 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1:29.674 1:29.157
4 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1:30.365 1:29.230
5 Johnny Cecotto Jr. Rapax 1:29.239 1:29.356
6 Oliver Rowland DAMS 1:29.355 1:29.725
7 Nyck de Vries Rapax 1:29.625 1:30.475
8 Louis Deletraz Racing Engineering 1:31.591 1:29.699
9 Luca Ghiotto Russian Time 1:29.727 1:29.976
10 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:29.743 1:30.113
11 Artem Markelov Russian Time 1:30.188 1:29.750
12 Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 1:29.928 1:29.756
13 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1:30.162 1:30.160
14 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1:31.072 1:30.278
15 Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:30.901 1:30.297
16 Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:30.672 1:30.330
17 Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 1:30.433 1:30.671
18 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1:30.992 1:30.470
19 Nabil Jeffri Trident 1:31.230 1:32.113
20 Roberto Merhi Campos Racing 1:31.470 1:31.697
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