The first day of the second test for the FIA F3 European Championship seemed to have attracted the winter weather that has plagued tests in single seater categories this season, as the Autodromo di Monza was covered in a heavy blanket of snow. This meant that testing for the first day was cancelled, but some of the 30 drivers decided to venture out for their track walks, unphased by the weather.
The 5.793km circuit was showing the characteristics of an ice rink for the following morning, as the drivers and teams were yet again confined to their garages, as delays were again part of the course, when it came to reading what the weather would do next. The sun, however, brought brightness and some warmth to the famed track, that it meant all drivers could start aplomb with their planned testing schedules, in preparation for the first race weekend.
Threebond with T-Sport driver William Buller again topped the testing timesheets, showing the prowess of his Dallara-Nissan package, but only did so in the final few minutes of the day’s testing, which was extended by an hour, in light of the weather. “Monza has got a completely different layout than Barcelona and nonetheless, I was quick at both circuits,” said the 20-year-old from County Down, “We did a good job today and as I see it, things look rather promising, for the weekend.”
Prema Powerteam’s Alex Lynn and Raffaele Marciello rounded out the top three, with the Briton looking for more than just outright speed being the main focus, and sounded pretty happy with the day’s work: “We mainly focused on setting the car up for this track. The fact that we were among the quickest, nevertheless, is really nice. The approach of the squad demonstrates that Prema Powerteam has got a lot of experience.”
Eurointernational‘s Tom Blomqvist showed consistent form to end up fourth, with local driver Antonio Giovinazzi not that far away for Double R Racing, using his local knowledge to great use. The Italian was ecstatic at his first time being in the top five: “I know Monza well and like the circuit a lot. I truly look forward to the race weekend and think that a home race at the beginning of the season can be an extra boost.”
Fortec Motorsports saw Luis Felipe Derani make a noticeable impression as one to keep an eye on, as he got his name high up the board at early doors, but had to be content with sixth: “In the opening stages of the morning session, the conditions still were difficult and I took it easy. But when the track dried more and more, I really went for. It’s nice to have secured one of the top positions but we still have a lot of work to do. It’s a pity that the first day of testing had to be cancelled due to the bad weather.”
Carlin Racing’s Harry Tincknell, Prema Powerteam’s Lucas Auer, Fortec’s Felix Serralles and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Mans Grenhagen rounded out the top ten, with Josh Hill in the top 15 and Tatiana Calderon clearly outpacing fellow female racer Michela Cerruti at the lower end of the times.
The drivers, including late entry Gary Thompson, who placed 25th in the times for Romeo Ferraris, will have two days off in Italy, before the racing begins. With such a wealth of talent, where the top 21 drivers were separated by only a second and a half, the new series looks set to be more than just exciting, but completely high-octane and action-packed from the moment the lights go out…