See full practice session results
The 2014 GP2 Series championship got underway on Friday with a noon practice session at the predictively hit and dusty Bahrain International Circuit, with DAMS pair Jolyon Palmer and Stephane Richelmi leading half the field out for their initial installation laps when the track went green for the first time.
It was two drivers who had been late call-ups for the weekend - Conor Daly in the Venezuela GP Lazarus and Axcil Jefferies for Trident - who were keenest to get down to some proper laps, Daly going top with a 1:43.057 almost exactly a second faster than the 19-year-old from Zimbabwe. Daly was eventually displaced a quarter of the way through the session by another series rookie, Campos Racing's Arthur Pic, who went 1:42.677s on the 3.363-mile (5.412km), 15-turn track.
Despite the increase in practice time from 30 to 45 minutes in 2014, the teams remain constrained by having a strict allocation of three sets of the Pirelli P Zero Orange Hard prime compound and two of the P Zero Yellow Soft option compound per car for the whole race weekend in Bahrain. That meant many drivers opted to wait out the opening quarter of an hour in pit lane, Mitch Evans finally signalling a step change in the action when he emerged to lay down a time of 1:42.062 in the #01 Russian Time.
It was halfway through the session before all 26 drivers had posed a representative first flying lap, Hilmer Motorsport's Daniel Abt being the last to emerge from pit road to get to work. Evans' time continued to set the pace a few hundredths of a second ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne who had shot up into second for ART Grand Prix ahead of Raffaele Marciello (Racing Engineering) and with Abt quickly up to fourth.
After the hiatus everyone was back to work, but improved pace was not on the agenda as the drivers worked on ageing tyres on race distance set-ups, meaning that there was no further challenge to the top four. Anyone planning a sneaky last-minute banzai lap to claim the top spot was thwarted when Daniel De Jong's MP Motorsports crawled to a halt in the run-off coming out of turn 1 with a little under three minutes remaining, at which point the officials put out the red flags bringing practice to a slightly premature finish.
Until that point there had been no significant incidents requiring red flags, although turn 11 at the top of the hill did cause problems for several drivers including Caterham's Alexander Rossi and both Carlins of Felipe Nasr and Julian Leal, while it was turn 13 that did for Facu Regalia and saw the Hilmer Motorsport car slither completely off the track under braking and onto the dusty painted run-off.
Qualifying for the season opener follows later in the day under the floodlights at 8pm local time (6pm BST), with the 32-lap feature race 1 is scheduled to start on Saturday at 1.10pm local time (11.10am BST) and the shorter 23-lap sprint race 2 is set for Sunday at 2.15pm local time (12.15pm BST). Live coverage of all sessions is available in the UK on the Sky Sports F1
subscription satellite channel.See full practice session results