Austrian Lucas Auer topped the opening practice session at Macau in a session disrupted by a number of crashes and incidents.
The Mücke Motorsport driver set a best time of 2m14.645s late in the session to confirm his top spot after trading times with Tom Blomqvist of Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, with the Briton falling to third behind his Italian team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi in the dying seconds of the session.
Formula Renault 3.5 Series star William Buller was fourth for Signature, ahead of Jordan King of Carlin, while Felix Rosenqvist was sixth in the second Mücke Motorsport machine.
Max Verstappen was seventh for Van Amersfoort Racing as he begins his final Formula 3 race weekend before starting his Formula 1 career in 2015, just ahead of Nicholas Latifi in the leading of the SJM Theodore Racing by Prema entries.
GP2 Series race winner Stefano Coletti was ninth for EuroInternational, while Sean Galael put the third Jagonya Ayam with Carlin machine into the top ten.
The session had been initially delayed by an hour due to repair work on barriers that had been damaged in a previous session, and it saw B-Max Racing Team driver Mitsunori Takaboshi crash into the barriers at Moorish Hill, causing a red flag.
Unfortunately for European Formula 3 Champion Esteban Ocon, the Frenchman was unable to avoid the stricken machine of the Japanese driver and damaged his front suspension, ending his session early; Ocon ended fourteenth fastest.
Sam MacLeod was another to crash at the same corner after just fifteen minutes of the session, while Richard Goddard was the third victim of the corner after the resumption of the session after Takaboshi’s crash.
Dan Wells, making his International Formula 3 debut for Toda Racing, had the biggest accident of the day, crashing into the barriers at Fisherman’s Bend and damaging the rear end of his car, although the Briton was able to walk away from the incident unharmed.
Post-session it was revealed that Ocon and Verstappen would both drop two places on the grid for the qualifying race on Saturday after passing a red light during the session and missing weight checks.
As well as Ocon and Verstappen, MacLeod was also penalised post-session with a one-place grid drop after crossing the pit lane exit line.
Macau Free Practice 1 Times
|1||Lucas Auer||AUT||Mücke Motorsport||2:14.645|
|2||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||2:14.700|
|3||Tom Blomqvist||GBR||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||2:14.835|
|6||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Mücke Motorsport||2:15.277|
|7||Max Verstappen||NED||Van Amersfoort Racing||2:15.425|
|8||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||SJM Theodore Racing by Prema||2:15.451|
|10||Sean Galael||INO||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||2:15.896|
|11||Nick Cassidy||NZL||ThreeBond with T-Sport||2:16.044|
|13||Felix Serralles||PUE||Team West-Tec F3||2:16.605|
|14||Esteban Ocon||FRA||SJM Theodore Racing by Prema||2:16.849|
|15||Martin Cao||CHN||Fortec Motorsports||2:17.195|
|16||Alex Palou||ESP||Fortec Motorsports||2:17.275|
|17||Tatiana Calderon||COL||Mücke Motorsport||2:17.407|
|19||Antonio Fuoco||ITA||SJM Theodore Racing by Prema||2:17.511|
|20||Santino Ferrucci||ITA||Fortec Motorsports||2:17.533|
|21||Gustavo Menezes||USA||Van Amersfoort Racing||2:18.043|
|22||Dan Wells||GBR||Toda Racing||2:18.060|
|23||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Double R Racing||2:18.501|
|25||Andy Chang||MAC||Team West-Tec F3||2:19.633|
|26||Mitsunori Takaboshi||JAP||B-Max Racing Team||2:20.433|
|28||Richard Goddard||AUS||ThreeBond with T-Sport||2:21.648|