Just like in the Chinese qualifying session, Nathaniel Powers was fastest in practice for the Malaysian V-Prix, but only just ahead of Felix Perez by just 4 thousandths of a second. It wasn’t smooth running for anyone however after a red flag divided practice into two effectively 20 minute sessions after a red flag due to two bizarre incidents.
Even before that, it was a far from ordinary practice. As the lights went green, the temperature was so high, mechanics were having heat strokes. No one ventures out onto the track for the first 7 minutes, the most interesting thing being Enrique Ruiz throwing an ice cold bucket of water over him to keep cool. Finally, AMR decided to send their cars out. Finn Schnyder and Dmytro Kovalenko went for an out-lap, only to return to the pits immediately with shredded tyres as they overheated in the heat (obviously).
Everyone decided to stay in their garages for longer until finally, 10 minutes after practice had started, the temperatures started to fall and drivers began to come onto the track. Puccio Giodano was about to be the first to set a lap time but went wide at the final corner onto the gravel trap and bounced his car back onto the track. He predictably damaged part of his car, forcing him to pit for repairs. As such, Marcus Thunder was the first driver to set a lap time, but he was beaten by Oleksandr Zozulya, who put in a great lap. The two Franklins and Powers slotted in behind, while the two Mathershaws, Klaas van Snelheid and Perez decided to wait for a while.
More and more midfield teams settled lap times, coming in between the top four and the likes of Lucas, Cheema and Excelsior. Adrien Simon decided to set a lap time and was on for a stunner until the red flags were brought out for two incidents. Going through turn 3, Jules Simon, on his first attempt at a lap time, suffered a tyre blowout with the rear right and was sent into a high speed spin, smashing into the barriers. The Frenchman was extracted from the car and airlifted to hospital. Meanwhile, at the penultimate corner, Lewis Ellington slowed down on the corner entrance just before the braking zone to let Johan Halvosen past. The Dane was unaware and went straight into the back of Ellington's car. The two cars came to a halt in the gravel traps. The two got out of the car and surprisingly shook hands, before blaming each other in front of the media.
Impressively the marshals took only 20 minutes to clear away the three cars, with word reaching the paddock that Simon was awake and alright, but the rest of his race weekend was in doubt. When the session restated, that track temperate had shot back up, and no one decided to try out a lap. Finally after ten minutes, much like before, the temperature began bearable and pretty much everyone went out to do a qualifying simulation. Simon and Kangur went first and fourth, split by the Franklins who improved to beat Zozulya. Kangur them did a second lap and to the surprise of everyone, went quicker and took first.
Van Snelheid then came across the line and pipped the Estonian to first on his second lap as well, after a poor first lap. Powers had two ok sectors but smashed the final sector, hitting the apexes beautifully and getting the power down early for the two long straights. Perez and Zozulya decided to stay in the garage for now. Everyone pitted and did a quick pit stop for fresh tyres. Expect to see that tomorrow with drivers trying to minimise the time lost changing tyres.
Perez was the first to complete a lap and did a spectacular 1:31.674. Van Snelheid short by 0.099 seconds, while Simon came in between the two. Kangur locked up at the first corner and has to abort his lap, while Kinnumen has a shocker and likewise didn’t improve allowing Ruiz to jump past him. All three were beaten by Zozulya however. Powers was the last driver at the top to cross the line and went fastest, just 0.004 ahead of Perez.
Everyone went for a second lap, but while Perez was on for another super lap, he spun at the penultimate corner and brought out yellow flags, effectively ending the session. Behind the top eight, Felix Beyer had spent most the session around the bottom few positions of the top ten, finishing ninth. Ingram were happy with tenth and eleventh, Vasquez ahead of Mattson, one place off their trademark 9th and 10th. Will Hoskins continues to embarrass the new team by coming home in 12th, just ahead of Mario Juan Lopez who will be looking go collect his first points after poor luck in the first three races.
Further behind, Phoenix were 15th and 18th, as they look for their first points of the season, one year on from last year’s heartbreak. Gabriele Garcia was complaining about the car handling before, during and after practice and only managed 16th on a bad day for North Star. Giodano rounded out the top 20, while Lopez were only 21st and 22nd, putting their record of scoring in every race this year in jeopardy. AMR never really managed to get a clean lap in with car issues and the shredded tyres at the start of the session not helping as they managed 25th and 26th.
Of the new teams, after Hoskins Nikolai Milkovich was the highest placed in 17th, through Cheema will be wary of their pace drop off throughout the weekend. Rodolfo de la Fuente made sure there were two Andromeda's in the top 19, while Lucas struggled with 24th for Marcus Thunder and 28th for Arden Hutchinson. Karl Beckenbauer was the sole Excelsior to set a lap time, coming 27th. Simon, Halvosen, Ellington all failed to set a lap time, but they still were ahead of Hunter Ryan. The Australia got lost driving to the circuit and was only found when he was arrested by the police for driving around a round-about repeatedly for over a hour. He has been released and an Ocelot mechanic will drive him tomorrow.
The cars will be back on track for qualifying tomorrow. In the meantime, full practice results can be seen below:
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