The team that started the third round of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series the strongest proved to be Carlin, the defending champions leading the way in Friday practice at Brands Hatch.
The day’s opening session was a somewhat truncated affair, limited to just 30 minutes of running after a flurry of red flag periods which continued throughout the day’s action.
Rain prior to first practice left the Brands Hatch GP circuit a damp strip of tarmac in the day’s opening session, the conditions easing off and the times beginning to tumble as Carlin drivers took themselves to the fore of the times on the drying track.
The 60-minute session was eventually topped by series returnee – and 2012 British F3 runner-up – Jazeman Jaafar, who showed his pace and experience to take practice one honours with a time of 1m18.857, leading an unprecedented Carlin 1-2-3-4 result as the Malaysian finished 0.433s ahead of team-mate Jordan King.
Jaafar declared himself happy with the day’s work on his return to a track he enjoys, despite his session also featuring an off at Dingle Dell corner, Antonio Giovinazzi also crashing his Double R Dallara during the session as he went off the road at Paddock Hill bend.
Nicholas Latifi and Jann Mardenborough completed the perfect session for Carlin with third and fourth, before King struck back in second practice, beating Italian driver Giovinazzi to the honours thanks to a lap of 1m18.406s, Jaafar ending the session third ahead of Latifi and Mardenborough.
Championship leader Will Buller did not have the most competitive of starts to his Brands Hatch visit meanwhile, the Fortec Motorsport driver ending the day fifth and sixth, over 1.3s off the pace in both sessions.
West-Tec drivers dominated the National class meanwhile, Silverstone star Ed Jones the man who topped both of the day’s sessions, beating team-mates Cameron Twynham and Chris Vlok in the opening session.
Revitalising himself with the championship after missing the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps, Jones then repeated the feat in the second encounter, fellow Brit Twynham again being his closest rival as he was a healthy 1.8s clear of the third car driven by New Zealander Vlok.
The latter session was not all plain sailing for Jones however, being forced to pull off the circuit with an engine electrical problem that, thankfully, won’t affect his participation in the weekend’s races, his title rival Sun Zheng also causing a red flag with an off at Druids moments later.