Yuki Tsunoda impressed in his first ever FIA Formula 2 session at the Red Bull Ring, finishing a surprise first ahead of more experienced challengers in Free Practice. The Carlin rookie climbed to P1 at the halfway mark and his time of 1:15.249 wouldn’t be bettered, with Hitech Grand Prix’s Luca Ghiotto in second and ART Grand Prix rookie Marcus Armstrong in third.
The cars fed out onto the track at the first opportunity, having endured seven months without a competitive session. A few minor damp patches remained from the early morning downpour, but the track had more than dried enough for the slicks. Tsunoda’s teammate Jehan Daruvala set the day’s initial flying lap, but it was Mick Schumacher who posted the first fast time in the PREMA, lapping at 1:16.597. Daruvala then leapt back into first, before fellow rookie Felipe Drugovich took a turn at the top. Renault juniors Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou began a battle for P1 and exchanged fastest times as they fired under 1m 16s.
It was from here that Tsunoda took control. The Red Bull junior showed no rustiness to beat the Renault pairing, and top a front five made up of three rookies. The session was brought to a brief halt as Marino Sato spun and brought out a red flag, but little would change when they got back underway. Tsunoda remained first, with Luca Ghiotto taking second, just 0.054s slower.
Armstrong would seal third as Free Practice came to a close, followed by Zhou and Lundgaard. Drugovich, Robert Shwartzman, Daruvala, Sean Gelael and Louis Deletraz would complete the top ten. Tsunoda will look to continue his strong start to life in F2, when the cars return for Qualifying at 5pm (local time).