FIA Formula 2

Latifi quickest through final Formula 2 pre-season test in Bahrain

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Nicholas Latifi finished quickest in the final pre-season test ahead of the new FIA Formula 2 campaign, starting in Bahrain on April 15.

The FIA announced last month that it had struck an agreement for the GP2 Series to become F2 for 2017, reviving the championship that last ran in 2012.

In the lead-up to the season-opener, teams were afforded six days of pre-season running, with the second test taking place from Wednesday to Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries closed out the test as the fastest driver, posting the best time in both the morning and afternoon of Friday’s running, yet he was unable to beat Latifi’s benchmark from Thursday.

Latifi’s fastest time of 1:40.541 saw him finish 0.042 seconds ahead of de Vries, with DAMS teammate Oliver Rowland backing him up in third place, rounding out an impressive test for the French team.

Honda youngster Nobuharu Matsushita was fourth overall, but did have his fastest time from Wednesday taken away after being deemed to have speeded under red flags.

Luca Ghiotto ended the test fifth-fastest for Russian Time ahead of teammate Artem Markelov in sixth, while GP3 graduates Antonio Fuoco and Alexander Albon were seventh and eighth. Jordan King was ninth for MP Motorsport, with Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc ending up 10th.

The new F2 season begins on April 15 with the feature race in Bahrain.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.