Just as they have done throughout the year, the ART and Trident teams were looking in top form as the first day of post-season testing at Yas Marina Circuit got underway in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Matt Parry, who has spend 2015 driving for Koiranen GP, switched to Trident for the day and duly went fastest in the morning test with a time of 1:55.800s on the 3.451-mile, 21-turn circuit, just pipping Jack Aitken, this year's winner of Formula Renault 2.0 EuroCup.
GP3 regular Antonio Fuoco swapped from Carlin to join Parry at Trident for the day and was third fastest ahead of Arden's Jake Dennis who finished third in this year's European F3 Championship.
The morning session lasted for two and a half hours with temperatures quickly rising from merely hot to absolutely scorching the closer it got to noon. Campos Racing's Steijn Schothorst was first to set the pace but was quickly ousted by Koiranen GP's Matevos Isaakyan before the serious players then started to get involved.
There were three red flags during the session, starting with an early interruption due to Brazilian rookie Pedro Cardoso stopping on track. There was a longer delay for ART's Nirei Fukuzumi going off and making contact with the barrier at turn 1 and a further short stoppage after Tatiana Calderon stopped on circuit with technical gremlins with her Status Grand Prix car.
In the afternoon, Ralph Boschung (switching from Jenzer to Status Grand Prix today) was first to set a strong time, but Leclerc then went faster and the two enjoyed their own private duel with the honours for best time going back and forth until finally Leclerc put matters beyond doubt with a lap of 1:55.209s, almost six tenths faster than Parry's morning best.
Boschung ended up slipping down the order toward the end of the session, with Fuoco putting in the second best time of the afternoon along with Dennis and Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS Champion Jake Hughes driving for Koiranen GP. His team mate Isaakyan was fifth fastest ahead of Trident's Kevin Joerg, the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC racer managing to repeat his morning's sixth place just ahead of Boschung.
Joerg was also responsible for the only red flag of the afternoon when he spun on the backstraight with three minutes remaining. The session did not restart.
See full test times from day 1 of post-season testing at Abu Dhabi