Home Featured Sebastian Fernandez takes surprise FIA F3 pole for Austria opener

Sebastian Fernandez takes surprise FIA F3 pole for Austria opener

by Josh Suttill

Photo by Joe Portlock / LAT Images

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.


Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix 1m19.429s 16
2 Lirim Zendeli Trident 1m19.445s +0.016s 16
3 Oscar Piastri Prema 1m19.564s +0.135s 16
4 Logan Sargeant Prema 1m19.595s +0.166s 15
5 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab 1m19.618s +0.189s 16
6 Frederik Vesti Prema 1m19.676s +0.247s 16
7 David Beckmann Trident 1m19.693s +0.264s 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
14 Clement Novalak Carlin 1m20.111s +0.682s 15
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
21 Cameron Das Carlin 1m20.344s +0.915s 15
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
25 Olli Caldwell Trident 1m20.846s +1.417s 16
26 Enaam Ahmed Carlin 1m20.858s +1.429s 16
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