5 minutes early the pit lane opened under another glorious Chennai sky at the Madras Motor Race Track, kicking off the second weekend in the beautiful weather we have become accustomed to in India.
The drivers are on old tyres for Free Practice, saving their new set for Qualifying, so we expect times around the 1:38 mark, similar to the test session earlier in the morning. Free Practice is exactly what is says: a practice for qualifying which determines the start grid for Race 1 and quite often sets the tone for the entire weekend.
Malaysia’s Muizz Musyaffa fired the opening salvo with a 1:38.673 – a time which stood for 15 minutes and ended the first stint. All the drivers returned to the pits for a cool drink and a word with their coaches.
It was newcomer Chetan Korada who took us back out setting a personal best just two-tenths off Thompson, as he closed in on the more experienced F4 drivers’ times. As Chetan went around turn 1 of his flying lap Antonine Potty rejoined the fray. Quickly setting the 3rd fastest time, splitting his friend Alessandro from Kane Shepherd in second, Potty doubled down the next lap with a blistering 1:38.419 the fastest of the session, two-tenths ahead of Muizz who was still in the pits.
Antoine had found his time in the first sector, the stretch from start/finish to turn four where he was almost three tenths faster. As we know from coach Sandy Stuviq, turn 1 is just a 5 bar tap on the brakes – perhaps Belgium’s representative this weekend even managed to get round it with his foot on the throttle!
Back down the grid Luke Thompson was closing in on Malaysia’s Alister Yoong who was just three-tenths off Ghiretti. We spoke to Alessandro last week after Free Practice and he told us he would wait for cooler temperatures in qualifying to set his time, and that’s what he did, becoming the first man to break into the 1:37s. No doubt the Frenchman is looking to repeat that winning strategy this weekend.
With 10 minutes to go, the session was red-flagged with a yellow car beached at the exit of turn 7 just as Potty set the fastest first sector, two-tenths faster. The stranded car couldn’t be restarted and needed to be recovered ending the session under red flag with Belgium, Malaysia and Thailand first second and third.
But that’s just the beginning of the weekend and already we’ve seen some great driving and some new talent. We’ll be back at 4:30 for Qualifying so be sure to tune back in then and watch the live timing at http://www.madrasmotorsports.in/livetiming/live.html.
|1)||Antoine Potty||1 :38.419|
|7)||2018 Event 4 Practice 1||1 :41.646|