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Niko Kari fastest on GP3 return as final test begins

by Peter Allen

Photo: Joe Portlock / GP3 Series Media Service

Niko Kari set the pace upon his return to the wheel of a GP3 Series car on day one of the championship’s farewell test.

Kari made the step up from GP3 to Formula 2 for the final two rounds of the 2018 season with MP Motorsport, but moved back to the lower category for the opening day of testing, joining the Trident team.

At the circuit where he took his only GP3 victory in 2017, the Finn was third quickest during the morning session before taking control in the afternoon, lowering the benchmark time to a 1m53.890s.

That more than half a second quicker than second-placed Jehan Daruvala, who remained with MP Motorsport following his competitive GP3 debut last weekend. The Indian, linked to a Prema seat for FIA F3 in 2019, earlier topped the morning session with a 1m54.737s.

Motopark European F3 driver Sebastian Fernandez was the fastest rookie in third after taking over the Campos car driven to victory on Saturday by Leonardo Pulcini.

Devlin DeFrancesco moved from MP to join Kari in the Trident line-up and was second in the morning before improving his time to finish the day fourth.

David Beckmann, three-time race-winner for Trident, moved to ART Grand Prix and was the team’s quickest driver in fifth.

Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda, the only driver with a confirmed seat for FIA F3 next year, had an impressive day for Jenzer Motorsport. Running in a full Red Bull livery, the new Japanese Formula 4 champion was fourth in the morning and sixth in the afternoon.

More newcomers filled three of the last four spots in the top 10, with BRDC British F3 champion Linus Lundqvist (Campos) leading Jenzer regular Jannes Fittje and Formula Renault graduates Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri, who tested with MP and Trident respectively.

ART’s quartet rounded out the morning’s top eight, with Christian Lundgaard heading Beckmann, Felipe Drugovich and Max Fewtrell.

The team will replace Beckmann with European F3 race-winner Enaam Ahmed on Friday.

Charouz made its first appearance in the series with Arden’s cars with its drivers Marcus Armstrong, Fabio Scherer and Lirim Zendeli finishing both sessions in the bottom five.


Combined day one times
Pos Driver Team Morning Afternoon
1 Niko Kari Trident 1:55.174 1:53.890
2 Jehan Daruvala MP Motorsport 1:54.737 1:54.461
3 Sebastian Fernandez Campos Racing 1:55.730 1:54.708
4 Devlin DeFrancesco Trident 1:55.087 1:54.897
5 David Beckmann ART Grand Prix 1:55.501 1:54.957
6 Yuki Tsunoda Jenzer Motorsport 1:55.357 1:55.043
7 Linus Lundqvist Campos Racing 1:56.194 1:55.070
8 Jannes Fittje Jenzer Motorsport 1:55.679 1:55.305
9 Logan Sargeant MP Motorsport 1:55.684 1:55.342
10 Oscar Piastri Trident 1:55.702 1:55.355
11 Felipe Drugovich ART Grand Prix 1:55.574 1:55.379
12 Christan Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 1:55.479 1:55.702
13 Olli Caldwell Trident 1:56.409 1:55.492
14 Max Fewtrell ART Grand Prix 1:55.630 1:55.573
15 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport 1:56.352 1:55.616
16 Ben Hingeley Jenzer Motorsport 1:55.702 1:55.617
17 Fabio Scherer Charouz Racing System 1:56.636 1:55.929
18 Alex Peroni Campos Racing 1:55.936 1:56.092
19 Marcus Armstrong Charouz Racing System 1:56.269 1:56.123
20 Lirim Zendeli Charouz Racing System 1:56.207 1:56.408