Artem Markelov has set the pace in a quiet FIA Formula 2 Championship free practice session this morning at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, topping the timesheets 15 minutes in before concentrating on race runs ahead of teammate Luca Ghiotto and Charles Leclerc.

A few drops of rain fell ahead of the session before drying up, but all of the drivers were immediately out on track when the green lights came on to ensure as much usable track time as possible. Nobuharu Matsushita was the first driver to set a competitive laptime before Louis Deletraz and teammate Alexander Albon knocked him off the top spot.

But Markelov stopped the clocks at 1:31.128 a third of the way into the session, providing a target for his rivals: Leclerc narrowly missed it for P2 before being knocked back a spot by Ghiotto on the same lap, and then the entire field concentrated on race simulation runs ahead of tomorrow’s feature race.

There was little in the way of wayward action during the session: Antonio Fuoco ran wide at the Lesmo corners before returning, and Sean Gelael stopped on track with 2 minutes remaining, bringing out the VSC boards for the remainder of the session. 15 drivers were within a second of the top spot with Matsushita, Nyck De Vries, Oliver Rowland, Albon and Jordan King rounding out the top 8. Rain is threatening for this afternoon’s qualifying session, which promises to be an intriguing battle for the top spot.