Home Formula 3FIA F3 Championship Hitech GP’s Luke Browning fastest in wet Formula 3 practice at Spa

Hitech GP’s Luke Browning fastest in wet Formula 3 practice at Spa

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Hitech GP’s Luke Browning set the pace in a wet FIA Formula 3 practice session at Spa-Francorchamps.

Rain beforehand meant the track was already wet, and by the time ART Grand Prix’s Gregoire Saucy set the first laptime of the day it had begun raining.

His 2m24.900s effort initially looked untouchable, although eight-and-a-half minutes into the 45-minute session his team-mate Kaylen Frederick lapped 0.043 seconds off his benchmark.

The 11 other drivers who had set a lap were over a second off the pace, and eight drivers remained in the pits after the 10-minute mark.

Saucy improved to 2m24.216s to go 0.727s clear, with Nikola Tsolov making it an ART GP 1-2-3 almost two seconds back.

Lots of drivers set their first laptimes 13 minutes in, and among them was Prema’s Zak O’Sullivan who got within 0.312s of Saucy. The positions in the top 10 below Frederick changed as drivers either improved or posted their first efforts, with Prema’s Paul Aron going fourth fastest.

After 15 minutes there were no laptimes from Jonny Edgar or Sebastian Montoya, with 5.5s covering the 28 drivers that had been out. Hitech GP’s Gabriele Mini went fifth fastest, but could not break the 2m25s barrier.

A few minutes later the next improvements came in, and Browning set a 2m24.644s to briefly go third fastest. Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard then posted a 2m24.532s, before O’Sullivan lowered the pace to 2m23.862s. Aron slotted into second, 0.307s behind. Most drivers then pitted, with only a handful of improved laptimes in the next 15 minutes.

Campos Racing’s Pepe Marti went seventh fastest and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Caio Collet improved in 10th at practice’s halfway mark, both lapping in the 2m25s, and Mini then set a 2m24.628s to return to fifth place. The top six were now covered by less than a second.

Browning got within 0.227s of O’Sullivan after 28 minutes, as Montoya’s first laptime put him in 15th place.

Half an hour in, Trident’s points leader Gabriel Bortoleto broke into the 2m24s in eighth, and five minutes later O’Sullivan lowered the pace again to 2m23.694s.

Frederick and MP Motorsport’s Franco Colapinto went fifth and sixth fastest shortly after, and Colapinto’s team-mate Edgar finally recorded a laptime as he climbed to ninth place.

Mini improved his pace again in sixth, then going into the final six minutes the track got faster.

Marti went third with a 2m24.167s, but Saucy posted a 2m23.739s to demote him to fourth, and Frederick then shuffled him down to fifth with a 2m24.154s.

Trident’s Oliver Goethe was next into the top three, setting a 2m24.035s with five minutes to go, as Barnard improved in fifth.

With three minutes remaining Browning unsurped O’Sullivan with a 2m23.671s, and seconds later Collet went 0.05s faster.

Marti knocked 0.201s off the pace with a minute to go, and two seconds before the chequered flag Saucy went fastest by 0.032s. Frederick then went 0.109s up on him, and looked to have secured first place.

But two minutes later Mini jumped from outside the top 10 to fourth, and Browning set a 2m23.055s to go 0.224s clear.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gaps Laps
1 Luke Browning Hitech GP 2m23.055s 12
2 Kaylen Frederick ART Grand Prix 2m23.279s +0.224s 10
3 Gregoire Saucy ART Grand Prix 2m23.388s +0.333s 12
4 Pepe Marti Campos Racing 2m23.420s +0.365s 11
5 Caio Collet Van Amersfoort Racing 2m23.453s +0.398s 11
6 Gabriele Mini Hitech GP 2m23.581s +0.526s 12
7 Zak O’Sullivan Prema 2m23.694s +0.639s 8
8 Oliver Goethe Trident 2m23.796s +0.741s 12
9 Taylor Barnard Jenzer Motorsport 2m23.877s +0.822s 14
10 Nikita Bedrin Jenzer Motorsport 2m23.886s +0.831s 14
11 Hugh Barter Campos Racing 2m24.055s +1.000s 11
12 Gabriel Bortoleto Trident 2m24.122s +1.067s 12
13 Paul Aron Prema 2m24.169s +1.114s 8
14 Nikola Tsolov ART Grand Prix 2m24.203s +1.148s 12
15 Ollie Gray Carlin 2m24.402s +1.347s 13
16 Franco Colapinto MP Motorsport 2m24.496s +1.441s 6
17 Dino Beganovic Prema 2m24.726s +1.671s 8
18 Jonny Edgar MP Motorsport 2m24.880s +1.825s 6
19 Christian Mansell Campos Racing 2m25.036s +1.981s 11
20 Rafael Villagomez Van Amersfoort Racing 2m25.112s +2.057s 10
21 Leonardo Fornaroli Trident 2m25.173s +2.118s 11
22 Sebastian Montoya Hitech GP 2m25.557s +2.502s 12
23 Mari Boya MP Motorsport 2m25.559s +2.504s 6
24 Ido Cohen Carlin 2m25.931s +2.876s 12
25 Alex Garcia Jenzer Motorsport 2m26.699s +3.644s 14
26 Roberto Faria PHM by Charouz 2m26.725s +3.670s 15
27 Tommy Smith Van Amersfoort Racing 2m26.808s +3.753s 11
28 Michael Shin PHM by Charouz 2m27.047s +3.992s 16
29 Francesco Simonazzi Carlin 2m27.146s +4.091s 13
30 Sophia Floersch PHM by Charouz 2m27.310s +4.255s 15