Sebastian Fernandez earned a shock maiden FIA Formula 3 pole position for the season-opening race at the Red Bull Ring.
The 19-year-old failed to score a single point and finished 27th in the championship last year with Campos Racing, before switching to ART Grand Prix for the season-ending Macau GP and the 2020 season.
He fired in a late flying lap in the first qualifying session of the year to edge Trident’s Lirim Zendeli to pole position by just 0.016 seconds.
2018 ADAC Formula 4 champion Zendeli, who picked up his only points of the 2019 season at the Red Bull Ring last year, achieved his best qualifying result in the series. He did move up from fifth to second on the grid at Monza last year due to grid penalties.
Reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion Oscar Piastri was the leading Prema Racing driver in third place, just ahead of his team-mate and series returnee Logan Sargeant.
F3 veteran Jake Hughes ensured four different teams were represented in the top five positions, with 2019 Formula Regional European champion Frederik Vesti sixth for reigning teams’ champions Prema.
Vesti spun out of the final corner at the end of his first qualifying run but recovered to set the sixth-fastest time ahead of practice pacesetter David Beckmann and Campos’ Alex Peroni.
Macau Grand Prix victor Richard Verschoor was ninth fastest for MP Motorsport ahead of rookie Roman Stanek, who was a last-minute replacement for Niko Kari at Charouz Racing System.
Eurocup graduate Alexander Smolyar will line-up 11th on his FIA F3 debut for ART GP, ahead of the leading Hitech Grand Prix driver of Liam Lawson.
Red Bull junior Lawson was among the pre-season title favourites but Hitech struggled for pace in both practice and qualifying. His team-mates Dennis Hauger and Max Fewtrell were 16th and 17th fastest respectively.
2019 BRDC British F3 champion Clement Novalak was the fastest of the three Carlin drivers in 14th and had set the fastest sector one before he caught the Jenzer Motorsport-run car of Calan Williams.
Igor Fraga will start his first FIA F3 race from last place for Charouz, after setting a lap time 3.6s off pole and completing just five laps in the session following a suspected technical issue.
|1||Sebastian Fernandez||ART Grand Prix||1m19.429s||16|
|5||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||1m19.618s||+0.189s||16|
|8||Alex Peroni||Campos Racing||1m19.709s||+0.280s||17|
|9||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||1m19.809s||+0.380s||15|
|10||Roman Stanek||Charouz Racing System||1m19.826s||+0.397s||16|
|11||Alexander Smolyar||ART Grand Prix||1m20.028s||+0.599s||16|
|12||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||1m20.055s||+0.626s||16|
|13||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport||1m20.108s||+0.679s||16|
|15||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab||1m20.141s||+0.712s||18|
|16||Dennis Hauger||Hitech GP||1m20.190s||+0.761s||17|
|17||Max Fewtrell||Hitech GP||1m20.200s||+0.771s||17|
|18||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer Motorsport||1m20.228s||+0.799s||18|
|19||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer Motorsport||1m20.324s||+0.895s||16|
|20||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1m20.338s||+0.909s||16|
|22||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport||1m20.353s||+0.924s||17|
|23||Calan Williams||Jenzer Motorsport||1m20.555s||+1.126s||17|
|24||David Schumacher||Charouz Racing System||1m20.807s||+1.378s||17|
|27||Alessio Deledda||Campos Racing||1m21.233s||+1.804s||17|
|28||Sophia Floersch||Campos Racing||1m21.311s||+1.882s||15|
|29||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab||1m21.330s||+1.901s||14|
|30||Igor Fraga||Charouz Racing System||1m23.060s||+3.631s||5|