Carlin’s Felipe Nasr took an emphatic lead over his rivals in first practice ahead of Rounds 16-18 of the 2011 Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Despite having never driven the track before, Nasr topped the timesheets a full 6 tenths ahead of nearest challengers Antonio Felix Da Costa and Kevin Magnussen.

The Brazilian was just a whisker away from dipping under the 2:01 barrier, and ominously for his rivals, feels there is more speed to come later in the weekend.  “The track is still a little bit 'green'; maybe with more rubber down it may get a little quicker, but it will be hotter later also, so we will have to see. This is my first time at Paul Ricard and it is an amazing track – so much run-off, fast corners, long straights. It is perfect for Formula 3.”

Jack Harvey posted the 4th fastest time for Carlin, ahead of Fortec’s William Buller. Rupert Svendsen-Cook was 6th and was the last of the competitors to get into the 2:01s.

The session also marked Bart Hylkema’s International Series debut after T-Sport promoted the Dutchman to the leading class after dominating the Rookie Class all season. He set the 16th fastest time, making him 2nd fastest T-Sport runner.  Overall, he was happy with his performance: “I tested a Volkswagen-powered Dallara last October so I sort of knew what to expect; things are going well and I was 11th when I was on old tyres, so I am pleased.”

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series

Free Practice 1, Paul Ricard FRA / 15/7/2011

Championship class

1  Felipe NASR / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.073s

2  Antonio Felix da COSTA / POR,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.624s

3  Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.772s

4  Jack HARVEY / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.816s

5  William BULLER /GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 01.914s

6  Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.989s

7  Carlos HUERTAS / COL,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.051s

8  Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.104s

9  Harry TINCKNELL / GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 02.805s

10  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.843s etc

Rookie class

1  Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN,  Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda  2m 06.765s

Full timesheets http://bit.ly/oJQaiF