__Luca Ghiotto picked up where he left off in Round 1, as he set the fastest time during an eventful FIA Formula 2 Championship free practice session at Baku, Azerbaijan. The UNI-Virtuosi driver set a 1:56.673 at the chequered flag to put him ahead of Carlin’s Nobuharu Matsushita and MP Motorsport’s Jordan King.
Giuliano Alesi was the first out on track in the early morning 17 degree heat, on a dusty Baku City circuit. The cars were all on Medium Pirelli tyres and Nyck De Vries was the first to break the 2m barrier, but he was quickly toppled by Carlin duo Louis Delétraz and Matsushita.
The pacey Japanese was in a battle of his own in the early stages, as he beat his own time to set 1:58.067, followed by Delétraz and King. Sérgio Sette Câmara then showed how tight it is at the top this year, setting an identical time to Matsushita and taking P2. The Brazilian would later graze the wall as he tested the boundaries of the track.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Ghiotto sent the rest of the pack a gentle reminder of his pace in Bahrain, searing around the track to topple Matsushita by over 1s. This didn’t deter the Carlin ace, who had further speed up his sleeve and quickly returned to the top of the timings.
There was movement behind the front two, as De Vries, Nicholas Latifi and King all jostled for third. The position was initially held by the ART driver, before King’s time of 1:57.023 sealed the spot.
Matsushita had led the majority of the session and looked to have secured the best laptime, before Ghiotto leapt to the front on the chequered flag, with a time of 1:56.637. The UNI-Virtuosi driver beat Matsushita by 0.282s, followed by King, De Vries, Latifi, Schumacher, Callum Ilott, Sette Câmara, Juan Manuel Correa and Sean Gelael.
The trailing pack will look to break up the early battle for dominance between Ghiotto and Matsushita in qualifying, with plenty more to gain on the Supersoft tyres, at 3pm local time.__