F3 2020: Austrian Grand Prix – Friday

Image credit: Joe Portlock/LAT Images

Today saw FIA Formula Three kick start their 2020 season in style as Sebastian Fernandez secured a maiden pole in an eventful qualifying session, after David Beckmann edged Practice. 

Today also saw serval rookies make their F3 debuts from Oscar Piastri to Clement Novalak plus many more as they faced a tricky opener. 

Eventually, it would be the returning guard who would come out on top, so here is the key details from today’s F3 action. 

 

Practice

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Drivers were greeted with wet conditions as they ventured out for their first practice runs, with several opting to focus on warming up tyre temperatures during the opening stages before attempting flying laps. 

Liam Lawson eventually was the first driver to lay down a flier which was quickly bettered by several drivers, although the Red Bull Junior eventually was fastest after the opening ten minutes with a 1m 31.798. 

Several drivers including HWA’s Jake Hughes and Logan Sargeant of Prema then traded fastest laps until Trident’s David Beckmann became the first driver to duck below the 90 second barrier, producing a 1m 29.29.686 to better Roman Stanek’s time by 0.461s. 

A brief lull in action soon followed before everyone returned to the track in what was a frantic final ten minutes, as times fell across the board on a drying track.

David Schumacher set an initial new benchmark of 1m 27.220 in his Charouz car before Prema’s Oscar Piastri led a trail of cars including Alex Peroni and Clement Novalak in trading fastest laps.

Piastri eventually got the better of his rivals in the closing stages with two stunning laps to eventually end the session with a 1m 20.5163, which ultimately was bettered right at the death by Beckmann with a 1m 20.434 to finish top. 

Stanek, Schumacher, Richard Verschoor, Frederik Vesti, Jake Hughes, Igor Fraga, Sebastian Fernandez and Liam Lawson rounded out the top ten. 

Hughes’ fellow Brits, Novalak, Max Fewtrell, Enaam Ahmed and Olli Caldwell finished practice in 14th, 22nd, 25th and 27th positions respectively. 

 

Qualifying

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Weather conditions had improved in time for Qualifying as Beckmann led the field out for two warm-up laps, with Lirim Zendeli then setting the first flying lap of a 1m 21.407 which was instantly bettered by Beckmann by 0.506s.

Fernandez and Vesti then went faster before Novalak had a moment at the Lauda corner, running wide on entry and bouncing over the gravel before escaping unscathed as he continued on his way. 

Fernandez went quickest shortly afterwards with a 1m 20.079 before improving by 0.047s to a 1m 20.032, which was immediately bettered by Sargeant who produced a 1m 19.951 as teammate, Vesti spun out of the final corner but safely continued without damage. 

Teams then entered the tradition Qualifying lull before Jake Hughes produced a stunning fightback in the closing stages to eventually wind up fifth on a 1m 19.487, only bettered by Sargeant and Piastri in fourth and third respectively. 

Zendeli meanwhile looked to had secured pole with a stunning 1m 19.445 only for ART GP’s Fernandez to snatch his first-ever F3 pole and four points right at the death, with a stunning lap time of 1m 19.429 and just 0.016s faster than Zendeli.

Vesti, Beckmann, Alex Peroni, Verschoor and Stanek rounded out the top ten for tomorrow’s opening F3 race of the new season. 

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