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Dennis leads Auer and Verstappen on first Imola test day

by Peter Allen
Jake Dennis

Photo: FIA F3 European Championship

Jake Dennis set the quickest time on the first of two days of FIA F3 European Championship in-season testing at Imola, ahead of Lucas Auer and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen – who has been announced as a Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver, turned 17 and made his free practice debut since the last F3 event at the Nurburgring in August – topped the times in the morning session.

His benchmark of 1m36.925s was 0.426s quicker than second-placed Jordan King, with Verstappen’s Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate Gustavo Menezes taking third.

Auer was fourth ahead of Carlin duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Dennis. Championship leader Esteban Ocon – who celebrated his 18th birthday last month – was seventh as the fastest driver from Italian squad Prema, with Felix Rosenqvist eighth.

Completing the top ten in the morning session were two of six new drivers joining the series for the test – double Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy in a third T-Sport car, and Marvin Kirchhofer together with Motopark, returning to European-level F3 for the first time after nearly three years away.

With Kirchhofer competing in GP3 in Sochi this weekend, Motopark will not make their race return until Hockenheim the following week.

In the afternoon, Verstappen was able to improve his time by half a tenth of a second, but he was 0.066s slower than Dennis. In between them was Auer, 27 thousandths behind the Racing Steps Foundation protege.

Auer’s Mucke team-mate Rosenqvist was fourth ahead of Ocon and Giovinazzi. Cassidy was seventh ahead of Indy Lights-bound Felix Serralles, Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco and Tatiana Calderon.

Tom Blomqvist was forced to miss the day’s running after suffering minor concussion in a fall. He will return to action for Wednesday.

Combined testing results
Pos Driver? Team Session 1 Session 2
1 Jake Dennis Carlin 1:37.596 1:36.808
2 Lucas Auer Mucke Motorsport 1:37.473 1:36.835
3 Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort Racing 1:36.925 1:36.874
4 Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Motorsport 1:37.692 1:37.007
5 Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam 1:37.633 1:37.093
6 Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1:37.542 1:37.316
7 Jordan King Carlin 1:37.351 1:37.920
8 Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Racing 1:37.450 1:37.792
9 Nick Cassidy ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:37.725 1:37.498
10 Felix Serralles Team West-Tec 1:37.911 1:37.504
11 Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam 1:38.493 1:37.605
12 Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Racing 1:37.982 1:37.648
13 Will Buller Signature 1:38.208 1:37.704
14 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1:38.668 1:37.721
15 Marvin Kirchhofer Motopark Academy 1:37.750 1:38.077
16 Alexander Toril ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:38.219 1:37.759
17 Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam 1:39.190 1:37.852
18 Spike Goddard ThreeBond with T-Sport 1:38.569 1:37.963
19 Roy Nissany Mucke Motorsport 1:38.051 1:38.425
20 Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam 1:39.469 1:38.086
21 Ed Jones Carlin 1:38.305 1:38.112
22 Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Racing 1:38.160 1:38.170
23 Santino Ferrucci Fortec Motorsports 1:38.748 1:38.532
24 Michele Beretta EuroInternational 1:39.019 1:38.615
25 Nicolas Pohler Team West-Tec 1:39.211 1:39.059
26 Martin Cao Fortec Motorsports 1:39.874 1:39.152
27 Sergio Sette Camara EuroInternational 1:40.876 1:39.324
28 Sandro Zeller Jo Zeller Racing 1:39.423 1:39.324