CLICK: Full times from the first day of GP2 testing at Abu Dhabi
Pierre Gasly made good use of his opportunity behind the wheel of the 2014 championship-winning car, putting the DAMS top of the timesheets on the first day of post-season testing with a lap of 1:48.948s on the 3.451-mile, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit.
The 19-year-old Frenchman - who made his GP2 race début this season at Monza and went on to compete at Sochi and Abu Dhabi with Caterham Racing - was the only driver to dip under the 1:49s mark during the day, which consisted of two sessions of two and a half hours apiece, the latter running under the floodlights after the sun set.
Gasly pipped ART's Stoffel Vandoorne to the top spot by just 0.056s in the second session. The Belgian, who finished as runner up to Jolyon Palmer in this year's drivers championship, had earlier topped the noon session by almost four tenths of a second from Russian Time's Mitch Evans, with Gasly placing third before the midday break.
Arthur Pic, who has already been confirmed as staying at Campos Racing for the 2015 season, was fourth fastest in both sessions.
The line-up for the first of three days of post-season testing saw an eclectic mix of familiar GP2 stars such as Rio Haryanto, André Negrao and Nathanaël Berthon, try-outs for their counterparts from GP3 including Richie Stanaway, Marvin Kirchhofer and Emil Bernstorff, and a number of completely new faces to either championship who were all eager to get their first taste of the challenge of F1's official feeder series.
Much-talked-about Esteban Ocon was ninth in both sessions in the second DAMS car as he sought to capitalise on winning this year's FIA Formula 3 European Championship with Prema Powerteam. However he was slightly outshone on the first day by Jordan King - who had finished in seventh place in that championship racing for Jagona Ayam with Carlin - who made a positive first impression in Abu Dhabi with the third fastest time of the day clocking in at 1:49.314s in the Arden.
Ocon was also the unfortunate recipient of the dubious honour of triggering the first red flag of the day, just seven minutes into the first session, when he came to a stop in turn 11. Another driver getting his first taste in GP2, Swiss driver Zoel Amberg in the Trident, was the cause of the next red flag when he too ground to a halt - this time in turn 8, just before the first hour had elapsed.
By this point Vandoorne had already set the time of 1:49.445s that would stand as the fastest of the noon session and it wasn't until halfway through that Evans was able to join him in breaking the 1:50 mark. Despite the rest of the session running without further stoppages, Gasly was the only other driver to follow suit before the chequered flag brought proceedings to a close.
In the later evening session, the cooler conditions once the sun had set meant that times were immediately significantly quicker than they had been at noon. Vandoorne quickly took advantage and set his best lap of the day with a time of 1:49.004s before getting down to long distance race simulation runs for much of the rest of the session. Gasly was the only driver able to respond in kind, doing so 45 minutes into the session.
This time there were ten drivers under the 1:50s mark by the time the clock ran out on the day's track activity. GP2 regular Rene Binder, who was unwell in the morning and forced to sit out the first session, had recovered by the afternoon and was able to set the 11th fastest time of 1:50.016s in the Trident.
The final hour saw two further red flags, the first for Evans stopping at turn 11 with a gearbox failure and the second the rest of Sergio Campana stopping in the Venezuela GP Lazarus as everyone made one last push to improve their times. With insufficient time to clear the track before the clock ran out, the session did not resume.
Testing resumes tomorrow at noon. The GP3 team are also testing at Abu Dhabi this week, their track sessions alternating in between those of the GP2 field.
See full times from the first day of GP2 testing at Abu Dhabi