Théo Pourchaire and Victor Martins hit the ground running for ART Grand Prix, taking the top two spots in Free Practice in Sakhir. The French pair were quickly on the pace, with only Arthur Leclerc in the DAMS within a tenth of the duo back in third.
Brad Benavides was the first driver to get a time on the board, setting a 1:48.538 in the opening 10 minutes. More times began to filter in soon after as Zane Maloney and Enzo Fittipaldi made it an early Rodin Carlin 1-2 with 15 minutes gone. The Brazilian came to a halt shortly afterward on the outside of Turn 2, bringing out the Red Flag.
Running resumed with 25 minutes remaining and everyone was immediately back out onto the circuit. Maloney’s 1:45.984 remained the fastest effort until Pourchaire put his first time on the board. A 1:45.267 was comfortably quickest to the tune of half a second heading into the final 15 minutes.
Martins went within 0.055s of his teammate, who’d lowered his time by 0.003s on a subsequent lap. Jehan Daruvala had been third but lost his time for exceeding track limits at Turn 4. Leclerc was the first driver within a tenth of the ART Grand Prix pair, going third on a 1:45.363. Frederik Vesti and Ayumu Iwasa were fourth and fifth going into the final 10 minutes of track time ahead of Qualifying.
Richard Verschoor briefly popped up to fourth but like Daruvala before him, lost his time for track limits at Turn 4. Maloney improved his earlier effort to go sixth ahead of Boschung, Dennis Hauger, Verschoor and Kush Maini, who rounded out the top 10.
Just as the majority of the field left the pitlane for a final attempt, Ralph Boschung stopped at the exit of the pitlane to bring out the second Red Flag of the session. With under five minutes remaining of Practice, the session wasn’t resumed.
Qualifying is set to commence at 19:30 local time.