Lewis Hamilton defied his rookie status and underlined his position as one of this season's title favourites by topping both sessions of the opening pre-season GP2 Series test at Paul Ricard.

The Briton, running with reigning champion team ART Grand Prix, enjoyed a three-tenth advantage over the field during the morning, but saw his cushion cut to just a single click as Jose Maria Lopez closed the gap after lunch.

The Argentine showed encouraging pace on his first full day as a Super Nova driver, while fellow RDD driver Lucas di Grassi did likewise on his first day of pre-season testing with Durango, having graduated from the F3 Euroseries in Hamilton's footsteps. The Brazilian trailed the leading duo by some 0.7secs, but at least he enjoyed serious track time, unlike Durango team-mate Sergio Hernandez, who followed his unexpected deal with the Italian team by completing just three laps all day, and not posting a competitive time.

With none of the rain which had affected the morning session, all 26 drivers were able to mount the series' new slick Bridgestone tyres, although Hamilton proved equally adept regardless of the conditions. His quickest lap of the day, however, was almost exactly one second quicker than he managed during the morning, with the series running almost three seconds faster than the GP2 lap record on the 3D circuit configuration being used.

After Paul Ricard had been drenched by a night of heavy rain, running during the morning session was limited, particularly before the sun appeared and began to produce a dry line. Slick tyres were in evidence during the early session, but could not be put through their paces as they would later in the day.

Leading performances (22 February) - Paul Ricard:

Lewis Hamilton ART 1m 13.830s 1m 12.838s 17/30Jose Maria Lopez Super Nova 1m 14.162s 1m 12.957s 19/31Lucas di Grassi Durango 1m 15.452s 1m 13.638s 29/33Alex Premat ART 1m 14.834s 1m 13.903s 20/18Michael Ammermuller Arden 1m 15.520s 1m 14.006s 20/50Nicolas Lapierre Arden 1m 14.709s 1m 14.010s 16/44Alexandre Negrao Piquet 1m 25.779s 1m 14.103s 9/54Franck Perera DAMS 1m 15.034s 1m 14.106s 19/36Gianmaria Bruni Trident no time 1m 14.410s 0/24Adam Carroll Racing Engineering 1m 15.239s 1m 14.560s 32/25Ferdinando Monfardini DAMS 1m 14.893s 1m 14.627s 19/44Hiroki Yoshimoto BCN 1m 14.791s 1m 14.827s 23/16Adrian Valles Campos 1m 14.920s 1m 15.253s 26/20Luca Filippi FMS 1m 20.648s 1m 14.922s 14/24Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet no time 01:14.977 1/31Tristan Gommendy iSport 1m 29.171s 1m 15.026s 5/15Andreas Zuber Trident 1m 32.661s 1m 15.186s 15/45Timo Glock BCN 1m 15.575s 1m 15.608s 17/12Ernesto Viso iSport 1m 15.583s 1m 16.006s 18/15Fauzy Fairuz Super Nova 1m 15.617s 1m 15.701s 18/14Olivier Pla DPR Direxiv no time 1m 15.638s 0/30Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 15.739s 1m 16.400s 26/6Felix Porteiro Campos 1m 37.257s 1m 16.143s 5/31Jason Tahinci FMS 1m 17.189s 1m 16.348s 28/25Sergio Hernandez Durango no time no time 2/1Clivio Piccione DPR Direxiv no time no time 0/2

[Times displayed AM/PM, with fastest in bold; lap counts also shown AM/PM]


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