mick-schumacher_mrf-challenge-2016-bahrainMick Schumacher topped the opening day of practice for the MRF Challenge 2016 season opener in Bahrain by setting the fastest time in Free Practice 2. The German driver clocked a 2:00.467 to go one tenth faster than German F4 Champion Joey Mawson. Earlier in the day Estonian driver Ralf Aron clocked the fastest time in Free Practice 1, ahead of Schumacher and Harrison Newey.

In the opening practice session of the weekend it was Newey who first went fastest as the other drivers spent time familiarizing themselves with the circuit. Halfway through the session Newey led with a 2:02.449 ahead of Mawson and Schumacher. The next 10 minutes saw Newey and Schumacher exchange fastest laps with latter setting a time of 2:01.370. Newey went one tenth faster with a 2:01.263 as the session was coming to an end only to be pipped by Italian F4 champion Ralf Aron on the last timed lap who did a 2:01.144. Juri Vips and Kimi Schramm completed the top 5.

Free practice 2 saw Mawson wasting no time in getting up to speed and went fastest with a 2:01.783. Behind him Newey and Aron also went fast but were couple of tenths off the pace. Schumacher then posted a 2:00.783 to be the first driver to dip into the 2min time. He went even faster to set a 2:00.467 to top the sheets. Mawson went 2nd with a 2:00.566 with Aron in 3rd with a 2:00.889. Van Kalmthout and Manuel Maldonado completed the top 5.

Mick Schumacher, commented, “It is my first time driving here so I spent the first few laps familiarizing myself with the circuit, which I really enjoyed driving at. The car is step forward from last year’s car and I felt comfortable straight away. I was happy with how today went but now it is time to focus on qualifying and the race for tomorrow.”

All drivers were using the updated MRF 2000, which features a new updated Mountune Engine amongst aerodynamic changes. The time set by Schumacher was a full 3 seconds faster than the time set by Alessio Picariello in qualifying for the event last year. The drivers were happy with the updated car and feel there is lot for potential yet to be unlocked by India’s fastest single seater race car.

Harrison Newey, who is only 1 of the 3 drivers to have driven last season was very happy with the updated new car. He commented, “The updated car is definitely a step forward. You can feel the engine and braking is much better. The car is also lighter so finding a right balance is easier. I am happy with practice today and look forward to getting up there in qualifying tomorrow.”

Qualifying will take place tomorrow along with Race 1&2.

MRF Challenge 2016, Round 1, Bahrain, Free Practice 1:

1. Ralf Aron – 2:01.144
2. Harrison Newey – 2:01.263
3. Mick Schumacher – 2:01.370
4. Juri Vips – 2:01.699
5. Kimi Schramm – 2:01.738

MRF Challenge 2016, Round 1, Bahrain, Free Practice 2:

1. Mick Schumacher – 2:00.467
2. Joey Mawson – 2:00.566
3. Ralf Aron – 2:00.889
4. K Van Kalmthout – 2:01.225
5. Manuel Maldonado – 2:01.717