ART Grand Prix‘s Anthoine Hubert carried on the pace he showed in the first GP3 Series pre-season test to head the field for the opening day in Jerez de la Frontera.
Despite it being a damp, overcast morning the drivers and teams were not deterred from getting their running underway. Drivers queued up outside of their garages ahead of the green light, with Pedro Piquet leading them out.
Alessio Lorandi, was the first to switch to slick tyres, and set about whittling down the pace as running was stifled by the ever-changing track conditions. Jenzer Motorsport duo David Beckmann and Juan Manuel Correa appeared on track to conduct reconnaissance laps but peeled into the pitlane as drizzle hit the circuit prompting a brief hiatus in the action.
American Ryan Tveter, got the running back underway by persisting with slick tyre running while others preferred wets, to set a new benchmark. In the final hour of the morning session, more slick running followed as times plummeted as a result of drivers beginning to get a grasp of the conditions.
Going into the final half an hour of the morning, Leonardo Pulcini was on top of the timesheets before stopping on track to bring out the red flag.
ART’s Jake Hughes displaced the Italian before Piquet found three tenths over the Briton.
Niko Kari, then took his turn to head the timing, before Lorandi dumped the Finnish driver off of the top spot in the final ten minutes. Piquet took third ahead of Dorian Boccolacci as Correa grabbed fifth on his final run of the morning.
Simo Laaksonen beat Hughes to sixth, as Pulcini took eighth ahead of ART duo Callum Ilott and Nikita Mazepin.
A dry track greeted the drivers as they returned from lunch. Boccolacci and Kari heading straight out to take full advantage. Plenty of action was seen in the first half hour, with Hubert climbing to the top of the timesheets after beating Lorandi’s time from the morning session.
A second red flag was brought out as the clock approached the hour mark after Lorandi went off at Turn 9.
The focus for the afternoon was on race simulations with multiple teams trialling long runs and practice starts, resulting in very little change to the timing screens in the first half on the afternoon session.
With race runs complete, the focus was back on single lap pace for the final hour and drivers were soon setting personal best times.
Boccolacci got within a whisker of Hubert’s time with 15 minutes to go, but ended just two-hundredths slower than his compatroit.
With five minutes remaining, another red flag was brought out by Hughes going off at Turn 5 and effectively ending the session.
This allowed Hubert’s time to remain untouched, followed by Boccolacci. Pulcini held on for third as Lorandi beat Laaksonen to fourth. Guiliano Alesi finished head of team-mate Piquet – who completed the most amount of laps -as Mazepin, Tveter and Kari completed the top ten.