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GP2: Gasly sets the pace in quiet practice at Abu Dhabi

Pierre Gasly established himself as favourite to take pole for a second weekend in succession by topping practice ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne.
Practice for the final round of the 2015 GP2 Series championship proved to be a very orderly, business-like affair which saw DAMS' Pierre Gasly take charge of the times early on and then remain unchallenged through to the chequered flag.

CLICK: Full GP2 practice times from Abu Dhabi

The morning session was in any case of only nominal value to the drivers, as qualifying and the first race of the weekend will be held in very different evening conditions after dark. That meant that there was little of value that they could really learn, so instead practice took on more of the air of a general pre- or post-season test day as the drivers put in some time doing the basics and sweeping the desert track clean of its dusty and sandy coating.

The 45-minute session got underway at 11.15am local time and was held in bright and sunny conditions at the 3.451-miles, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit, with Raffielle Marciello (Trident) setting the first flying lap with a time of 1:51.793s but soon ousted from the top by Norman Nato (Arden) by nine tenths.

Soon it was Bahrain polesitter Gasly who was setting the pace, the first man under 1:50s, meaning that he led a brace of ARTs as 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne just pipped his team mate Nobuharu Matsushita for second spot. The pair succeeded in pushing Racing Engineering's Alexander Rossi down to fourth on the timesheets ahead of Gasly's DAMS team mate Alex Lynn, who was fifth fastest in the first part of the 45-minute practice.

While plenty of drivers had problems locking up or running off the track - the penultimate corner proving a particular problem for many - there were no serious incidents with everyone able to quickly recover from their minor indiscretions and get straight back to work. The usual issues with traffic and blocking were also in evidence, but no one seemed inclined to get too worked up about it on this occasion.

Having proved his pace early in the session and with the temperatures climbing as high noon approached, Gasly opted instead to spend the rest of the time available working on longer distance race simulations in a bid to understand the medium compound Pirelli tyres better. Tyre degradation had caught him out and cost him a podium last weekend, and the Frenchman was determined to learn from his experience and not get caught out the same way twice if he could help it.

Even so, no one else was in any position to take advantage of Gasly's concentration on race set-up and so his time of 1:49.349s remained unassailed at the top of the timesheets throughout the rest of the session. Nor were there any changes in position among the rest of the top five either: Russian Time's Mitch Evans finished sixth fastest, followed by Racing Engineering's Jordan King and then Marciello and Nato, with Campos Racing's Arthur Pic rounding out the top ten.

Qualifying gets underway later today in the much cooler evening conditions under the floodlights at 7.10pm local time (3.10pm GMT), with the 31-lap feature race 1 taking place on Saturday evening at 6.40pm (2.40pm GMT) and then the 22-lap sprint race 2 scheduled for Sunday at 2.20pm (10.20am GMT)

The GP3 Series is also in action this weekend, with Trident's Luca Ghiotto just two points ahead of ART's Esteban Ocon going into the final round of the year. Ocon's team mate Marvin Kirchhöfer was fastest in morning practice with a lap of 1:56.070s, with Ghiotto successfully pipping Ocon to second by just over a tenth of a second.

GP3 qualifying takes place later today at 3.10pm local time (11.10am GMT), with the 18-lap race 1 scheduled to get underway on Saturday at 12.25pm (8.25am GMT) and the shorter 14-lap race 2 on Sunday at 1pm (9am GMT).

Full GP2 practice times from Abu Dhabi
Full GP3 practice times from Abu Dhabi



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
2015 GP2 Series Round 11. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 27 November 2015. Pierre Gasly (FRA, DAMS). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Round 11. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 27 November 2015. Pierre Gasly (FRA, DAMS). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing
Sergio Canamasas - Carlin
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Alex Lynn - DAMS

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