McLaren junior Lando Norris led fellow Formula 1 reserve driver George Russell in Formula 2 practice at Paul Ricard.
Norris – who is at the top of the F2 championship standings with the Carlin team and has a new engine for this round – led for the majority of the session, logging a 1m45.562s early on which was good enough to keep him top despite a moment at Turn 11.
He was followed by Mercedes junior Russell, who is hoping to rebound after two DNFs at the last round in Monaco, having crashed out in both races.
The latest of the top five pace-setters to record his fastest lap was Maxi Gunther, who stole third with 22 minutes remaining in the 45-minute session.
The drivers topping the session all set their times relatively early, and few improved later on as the circuit temperature exceeded 45 degrees centigrade.
Prema’s Nyck de Vries, Norris’s fellow McLaren junior, took fourth, while Louis Deletraz rounded out the top five to kick off what the Swiss driver describes as “almost a home round”.
Alexander Albon of DAMS missed much of the session due to a throttle sensor issue, but rejoined late on to post the sixth-fastest time.
One spot ahead of Albon in second in the title standings, Artem Markelov ended his session with 22 minutes left on the clock as he spun at Turn 6.
The Russian Time driver had been ninth overall at that point, and only dropped one spot to round out the top 10.
Instead, the closest driver to Albon was Luca Ghiotto, heading Russell’s ART Grand Prix teammate Jack Aitken and Roy Nissany, the only driver yet to score a point in this year’s races.