Less than a week after hitting the Red Bull Ring for the opening Austrian round, Formula Three were back at the same venue for Practice and Qualifying as part of Styrian GP weekend.
On a day in which the series confirmed a ninth round at Mugello in mid-September, it would be a day in which Italian teams dominated as Trident and Prema battled for pole, whilst two red flags disrupted Qualifying.
Ollie Caldwell led the field out for installation laps from which various drivers either pitted or opted for further warm up laps, until Sebastian Fernandez set the first benchmark time of 1m 22.184.
Times then rapidly tumbled as several drivers traded fastest laps with Prema’s Logan Sargeant merging fastest at the halfway point through practice, although the American led Oscar Piastri, Jake Hughes, Frederik Vesti and Alex Peroni by a gap of 0.185s.
Hitech’s Max Fewtrell almost caused a stoppage after 17 minutes when he briefly came to a near halt with a technical issue, although the Brit eventually got moving whilst Piastri pitted with cockpit issues which were quickly resolved.
Charouz however unleashed David Schumacher during the mid-session lull as he set quick laps, culminating in a best time of 1m 20.823, prior to Caldwell causing a virtual safety car when he hit the DRS polystyrene and spread it across the start/finish straight.
Marshals quickly cleared the debris to allow the virtual Safety car to be withdrawn with two minutes left, triggering a flurry of last-gasp flying laps.
Lirim Zendeli eventually emerged fastest with a 1m 19.994 and 0.008s quicker than teammate, David Beckmann in a Trident one-two finish.
Peroni, Vesti, Alex Smolyar, Sargeant, Piastri, Fernandez, Richard Verschoor and Sophia Florsch rounded out the top ten.
Caldwell finished the session as the quickest Brit in eleventh position, ahead of Hughes, Doohan, Fewtrell, Novalak and Ahmed.
Trident trio of Lirim Zendeli, David Beckmann and Olli Caldwell didn’t hang about once the light went green, leading the field straight out for 30 minutes of qualifying as Zendeli set the first representative benchmark of a 1m 21.341 in seventh minute.
Piastri then rapidly beat that time with a 1m 21.321, only to be demoted by Campos’ Peroni who went fastest overall with a 1m 21.037.
Last weekend’s pole-sitter, Sebastian Fernandez however soon took the top spot with a 1m 20.816, only to bring out the red flag minutes later with a crash at Wurth Kurve which ended his Qualifying session prematurely.
Once the session resumed, Novalak was the only driver to go straight back out but pitted at the end of his flier, prior to the final runs which began when Theo Pourchaire led the field out onto the track with 11 minutes left.
Out at the front, Prema showed their mettle as Logan Sargeant posted a 1m 20.570 which was briefly displaced by Vesti who went 0.023s quicker, only to see his time deleted for breaching track limits as Piastri slotted into third and 0.020s slower than Sargeant.
Charouz’s Igor Fraga soon triggered a second red flag just a minute later when he pulled over, although a frantic finish resumed upon the restart as Vesti snatched pole from Beckmann at the death.
Speaking post race, Vesti described his maiden F3 pole position as a “very proud” moment whilst adding; “I’m really happy to be on pole as it’s very important in this championship for the races.”
That pole position therefore could well be crucial for the young Danish racing driver with rain forecast for Race One at 9:25am BST tomorrow.
Further down the order, Caldwell qualified as the highest-placed Brit in eighth ahead of Fewtrell, Hughes, Doohan, Novalak and Ahmed lower down the order.
|1||Lirim Zendeli||Trident||1m 19.994|
|3||Alex Peroni||Campos||+ 0.043|
|4||Frederik Vesti||Prema||+ 0.212|
|5||Aleksandr Smolyar||ART GP||+ 0.262|
|6||Logan Sargeant||Prema||+ 0.330|
|7||Oscar Piastri||Prema||+ 0.518|
|8||Sebastian Fernandez||ART GP||+ 0.550|
|9||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+ 0.555|
|10||Sophia Florsch||Campos||+ 0.669|
|11||Olli Caldwell||Trident||+ 0.700|
|12||Theo Pourchaire||ART GP||+ 0.768|
|13||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||+ 0.789|
|14||David Schumacher||Charouz||+ 0.829|
|15||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport||+ 0.861|
|16||Calan Williams||Jenzer||+ 0.881|
|17||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||+ 0.915|
|18||Igor Fraga||Charouz||+ 0.926|
|19||Cameron Das||Carlin||+ 1.002|
|20||Roman Stanek||Charouz||+ 1.023|
|21||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab||+ 1.030|
|22||Frederico Malvestiti||Jenzer||+ 1.048|
|23||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab||+ 1.053|
|24||Max Fewtrell||Hitech GP||+ 1.107|
|25||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer||+ 1.112|
|26||Clement Novalak||Carlin||+ 1.179|
|27||Dennis Hauger||Hitech GP||+ 1.220|
|28||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport||+ 1.235|
|29||Enaam Ahmed||Carlin||+ 1.348|
|30||Alessio Deledda||Campos||+ 1.775|
|1||Frederik Vesti||Prema||1m 20.378|
|2||David Beckmann||Trident||+ 0.123|
|3||Logan Sargeant||Prema||+ 0.192|
|4||Oscar Piastri||Prema||+ 0.212|
|5||Theo Pourchaire||ART GP||+ 0.276|
|6||Lirim Zendeli||Trident||+ 0.331|
|7||Alexander Peroni||Campos||+ 0.356|
|8||Olli Caldwell||Trident||+ 0.389|
|9||Sebastian Fernandez||ART GP||+0.438|
|10||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||+ 0.475|
|11||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+ 0.493|
|12||Aleksandr Smolyar||ART GP||+ 0.557|
|13||Max Fewtrell||Hitech||+ 0.582|
|14||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer||+ 0.648|
|15||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport||+ 0.737|
|16||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||+ 0.744|
|17||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport||+ 0.778|
|18||Roman Stanek||Charouz||+ 0.791|
|19||Dennis Hauger||Hitech GP||+ 0.846|
|20||Sophia Florsch||Campos||+ 0.850|
|21||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab||+ 0.891|
|22||David Schumacher||Charouz||+ 0.914|
|23||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab||+ 0.966|
|24||Igor Fraga||Charouz||+ 1.037|
|25||Clement Novalak||Carlin||+ 1.058|
|26||Calan Williams||Jenzer||+ 1.149|
|27||Enaam Ahmed||Carlin||+ 1.166|
|28||Cameron Das||Carlin||+ 1.169|
|29||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer||+ 1.228|
|30||Alessio Deledda||Campos||+ 1.848|