Gabriele Mini led the way in the opening practice session for the Macau Grand Prix.
Teams further back in the pitlane got their cars into the pitlane’s fast lane before track action began to make sure they would not be caught out in what turned out to be a relatively disruption-free 40-minute session.
Hitech GP and MP Motorsport’s drivers were first out, and a 2m37.735s from Luke Browning was the first benchmark. It was immediately beaten by Hitech team-mate Isack Hadjar by three seconds, then by a further six seconds as Alex Dunne lapped in the 2m28s. MP’s Marcus Armstrong, Dennis Hauger and Mari Boya slotted into fourth, fifth and sixth, with Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney and Dan Ticktum in seventh and eighth.
Van Amersfoort Racing’s drivers completed their first laps seven-and-a-half minutes in, with Noel Leon and Tommy Smith getting into fourth and fifth place, while Hadjar had an issue that led to him stopping in the mountain section and then again at Fisherman’s Bend but only local yellow flags were required as he was able to get going again.
Leon was next to top the times, setting a 2m17.820s to lead Smith by just 0.006 seconds. He remained on top for a while, with many drivers returning to the pits on their second laps and others getting warnings for crossing the pit exit line.
After 16 minutes, Mini briefly got himself into third ahead of Ticktum. But Maloney then bettered both to get within 0.803s of Leon and into third place.
The Prema drivers were soon the ones to beat, with Dino Beganovic lowering the pace to 2m14.407s. Smith improved to be 0.306s behind in second, and Beganovic’s team-mate Paul Aron was 2.812s back in third.
That became fourth when Mini set a 2m11.580s to go top, with Armstrong then Hauger going third fastest.
Trident’s defending FIA Formula 3 World Cup winner Richard Verschoor lapped within 0.807s of Mini’s time after 19 minutes to get into second, and Mini looked unable to improve due to traffic but it ultimately did not matter as ART Grand Prix’s Laurens van Hoepen crashed at Lisboa and red flags waved.
Action resumed with 14 minutes to go and the field queued to leave the pits. Beganovic had finished his lap before the red flags to return to the top two, but was knocked down to sixth once the first post-restart laps came in.
Browning set a 2m09.091s, with Maloney 2.228s slower in second before Ticktum reduced Browning’s advantage by 0.044s. Both were unaffected by Dunne crashing at Lisboa, as he was able to get going again.
Mini got within 1.167s of Browning with seven minutes remaining, then avoided a crash when he encountered traffic once again.
Beganovic had clear air and he set a 2m08.549s, going fastest by 0.525s by Armstrong. Verschoor reduced his advantage to 0.319s, then they were all blown out of the water by a 2m07.300s from Browning.
Hauger lapped 1.012s slower yet got into second, and Browning looked unbeatable until Mini set a 2m06.871s with 35s left on the clock. Verschoor went third fastest, 0.993s off the pace, then the chequered flag waved.
Boya jumped up to fourth after that, putting him ahead of Hauger, Beganovic and ART GP’s Nikola Tsolov.
Free practice results
|1||Gabriele Mini||Theodore Racing||2m06.871s||11|
|2||Luke Browning||Hitech GP||2m07.300s||+0.429s||12|
|4||Mari Boya||MP Motorsport||2m08.148s||+1.277s||11|
|5||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||2m08.312s||+1.441s||11|
|6||Dino Beganovic||Theodore Racing||2m08.335s||+1.464s||12|
|7||Nikola Tsolov||ART Grand Prix||2m08.490s||+1.619s||11|
|9||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||2m08.724s||+1.853s||11|
|10||Alex Dunne||Hitech GP||2m08.804s||+1.933s||10|
|11||Marcus Armstrong||MP Motorsport||2m09.074s||+2.203s||11|
|12||Sophia Floersch||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m09.170s||+2.299s||9|
|13||Christian Mansell||ART Grand Prix||2m09.253s||+2.382s||11|
|15||Oliver Goethe||Campos Racing||2m09.308s||+2.437s||12|
|17||Charlie Wurz||Jenzer Motorsport||2m10.126s||+3.255s||11|
|18||Noel Leon||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m10.129s||+3.258s||12|
|20||Matias Zagazeta||Jenzer Motorsport||2m10.476s||+3.605s||11|
|21||Tommy Smith||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m10.521s||+3.650s||14|
|22||Sebastian Montoya||Campos Racing||2m10.597s||+3.726s||12|
|23||Pepe Marti||Campos Racing||2m11.363s||+4.492s||10|
|24||Max Esterson||Jenzer Motorsport||2m11.371s||+4.500s||11|
|25||Paul Aron||Theodore Racing||2m13.227s||+8.356s||9|
|26||Laurens van Hoepen||ART Grand Prix||2m15.992s||+9.121s||4|