Trident’s Niko Kari topped the timesheets ahead of Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman before stopping late-on in?FIA Formula 3 practice at Paul Ricard.
Ending Prema control of top spot early in the session, Kari then slipped down the order as the opening runs of the 45-minute session unfolded. He sprung back into life with rapid pace in the final five minutes.
Setting provisional session best benchmarks in sectors one and three, Kari recorded a 1m51.305s to dethrone Prema Racing’s Shwartzman from top spot.
On his final lap of the session, Kari improved upon his previous best in sector one but was unable to complete the lap after being forced to stop on track at Turn 6.
The seven drivers directly behind Kari on the timesheet all improved on their final laps of the session, as the low grip surface at Paul Ricard evolved quickly through the session.
Shwartzman had slipped down the order in the closing minutes before launching back to second place, a slender 0.044s adrift of Kari’s benchmark at the chequered flag.
Hitech’s Leonardo Pulcini was third, ahead of? Barcelona sprint race winner Prema’s Jehan Daruvala.
Renault Formula 1 junior and reigning Eurocup champion Max Fewtrell was fifth for ART Grand Prix after having occupied top spot early in the session.
Pedro Piquet finished sixth – the Trident driver edging out seventh-placed Richard Verschoor by just 0.001s.
HWA’s Jake Hughes missed out on a late improvement and he ended up eighth as a result, despite having challenged for top spot during the session.
Marcus Armstrong and Christian Lundgaard, who topped the timesheet on day one and day two respectively during pre-season testing at Paul Ricard, ended up 10th and 12th, despite demonstrating similarly strong pace early on.
Lundgaard was on course for an improvement at the end of the session but ran wide and aborted the lap.
Only 29 cars are taking part this weekend rather than 30, with Jenzer driver Artem Petrov absent.
Free Practice results
|5||Max Fewtrell||ART Grand Prix||+0.3|
|7||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+0.5|
|11||Lirim Zendeli||Sauber Junior Team||+0.6|
|12||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||+0.7|
|13||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||+0.8|
|14||David Beckmann||ART Grand Prix||+0.8|
|16||Yifei Ye||Hitech GP||+1.3|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||Jenzer Motorsport||+1.4|
|19||Simo Laaksonen||MP Motorsport||+1.6|
|20||Raoul Hyman||Sauber Junior Team||+1.6|
|23||Andreas Estner||Jenzer Motorsport||+2.1|
|26||Liam Lawson||MP Motorsport||+2.6|
|28||Fabio Scherer||Sauber Junior Team||+3.7|