Having nearly lost the car on his first lap around the shorter Sakhir outer track, Felipe Drugovich joked that he was pleased to just get through the session, but the MP Motorsport man done much better than that, taking his seventh top five start in Formula 2.

F2 was debuting on the outer layout, which is nearly 2km shorter than the regular track, resulting in laptimes of just over a minute. As well as heavy traffic, one of the main struggles in Qualifying was the length of time it took to get the tyres up to temperature. Normally a one lap process in F2, Drugovich needed two warm-up laps before he could even attempt a flyer.

This meant that almost the entirety of the top ten set their laptimes on the first stint, with traffic, and two red flags, making it extremely difficult to get a fast lap in during the second half of the session.

“Overall, a pretty good day,” Drugovich said. “Yeah, we did struggle with the tyre temperature, but apart from that I’m happy with the lap that I did on my first stint.

“The second stint was a bit of a mess. Everybody was trying to get past and then we had the red flags as well. In the end, the first stint is the one that counted and I’m happy with P5.”

Discussing the differences between the two different Bahrain lap configurations, Drugovich said: “It is really difficult. It is really hard to nail a lap because there are so many bumps and that is tricky with the F2 car.

“I almost lost the car with my first lap today, so I am happy that I didn't spin and could put a lap in afterwards. It is a lot harder than it looks. If you looked at the track, it’s shorter so you may think that is easier, but no, it’s almost more difficult than the other one because it’s quite bumpy out there.”

Drugovich won for the third time this season, and the first on a Saturday, last time out in Sakhir, taking the Feature Race win over Callum Ilott in Round 11, thanks to a magnificent start.

Lining up behind Robert Shwarztman in fifth this time around, he’ll be hoping to get the better of another Ferrari junior off the line.

“Hopefully, I can start well again tomorrow,” he continued. “I think that we should be good for the race again. The car felt good, but we will see.”