Kevin Magnussen ended Friday’s afternoon practice session quickest ahead of Rounds 16-18 of the 2011 Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series at the Paul Ricard circuit. The Dane was the only man to land in the 2:00s, and similarly to the last British F3 meeting at the Nürburgring, with championship leader Felipe Nasr only a few fractions of a second behind. Antonio Felix Da Costa put in another impressive performance to claim the 3rd fastest time of the day.

Lap-times slowly crept down as the track began to rubber in, as Felipe Nasr acknowledged in the morning session. However, the Brazilian didn’t better his morning time as the others did, but instead was confidently experimenting with his car setup and very eager for qualifying and Round 16 on Saturday. “This afternoon we tried different things with the set-up of the car,” he said, “and I am feeling confident for tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day when I need to be quick…”

Magnussen’s Friday had been quite a dramatic one, the Carlin driver endured a puncture in the morning and a big spin at one of the fastest corners on the circuit – plenty of run-off keeping him safe. A few technical glitches also hampered his running, but even a good recovery in the afternoon left Kevin with some doubts: “This morning we had a few technical problems,” said Kevin, “but this afternoon the car was perfect. But I have been in this situation before, and I am not counting on anything.” His comments referred to Round 15, where an assured victory fell away from him as an engine mis-fire handed the win to Nasr in the dying laps of the race – the incident still appears to play on his mind in what has been a tricky season for the young Dane.

Da Costa put his F3 Euroseries and GP3 experience to good use to improve his overall time. He was classified ahead of his HiTech team-mate Pietro Fantin, with Rupert Svendsen-Cook close behind in 5th. Carlos Huertas posted the 6th fastest time ahead of Jack Harvey and Jazeman Jaafar.

Official qualifying at the South of France circuit is scheduled for Saturday morning, followed in the afternoon by Round 16. Rounds 17 and 18 are on Sunday. British Formula 3 enjoys the headlining support of Cooper Tires and is additionally backed by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series

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

Championship class am/pm times

1  Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.772s / 2m 00.969s

2  Felipe NASR / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.073s / 2m 01.201s

3  Antonio Felix da COSTA / POR,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.624s / 2m 01.148

4  Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.104s / 2m 01.516s

5  Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-VW  2m 01.989s / 2m 01.634s

6  Carlos HUERTAS / COL,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.051s / 2m 01.655s

7  Jack HARVEY / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.816s / 2m 01.664s

8  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.843s / 2m 01.821s

9  William BULLER /GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 01.914s / 2m 01.956s

10  Lucas FORESTI / BRA,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 03.139s / 2m 02.025s etc

Rookie class

1  Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN,  Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda  2m 06.765s / 2m 04.897s

Full timesheets