The MP Motorsport pairing of Kush Maini and Caio Collet topped Practice for the fourth round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Silverstone on Friday morning.
The drivers had spent over a month out of action since the last round in Barcelona, but wasted no time in getting back on the pace during the 45-minute session.
There was a fairly even split of drivers who had never experienced any of Silverstone’s layouts before, and Filip Ugran made the first mistake of the session by running off-track between Abbey and Farm, as he deputises for Alexander Smolyar at MP Motorsport this weekend.
Nazim Azman set the first representative lap for Hitech GP, having raced here during his 2020 GB3 Championship (then BRDC British Formula 3) campaign.
The Malaysian driver’s lap was deleted, though, which saw David Vidales and Francesco Pizzi take to the front for Campos Racing and Charouz Racing System respectively.
The times began to tumble after around 12 minutes, with Vidales and team-mate Hunter Yeany lead the field, while Ugran sat fifth on his return to the series.
Over half of the field had yet to set a time in the first 15 minutes, including all three ART Grand Prix, Prema Racing and Carlin cars.
Roman Stanek also sat in the pits longer than some, the Imola Feature Race winner perhaps waiting for the track to fully dry out after rain last night.
W Series‘ Practice session had helped to clear some of what little moisture remained, though, and the quicker times began to come in with the Stanek’s Trident team-mate, the returning Jonny Edgar going sixth with a 1:47.497.
Championship leader Victor Martins had yet to set a competitive time in the first 15 minutes, but went six tenths behind Franco Colapinto while his ART team-mate Gregoire Saucy also improved.
Zdenek Chovanec returns to the fold with Charouz this weekend, and survived a slide over the kerbs on the exit of Copse as he sat in P22.
Azman’s team-mate from 2020, Kaylen Frederick went quickest with a 1:45.823 just before the halfway stage, as the field spread reduced dramatically.
Martins’ earlier time was chalked off for running wide at Copse, while Rafael Villagomez (Van Amersfoort Racing) made a similar mistake a few minutes later and was lucky to escape without floor damage.
Martins improved again to go just under half a second shy of Frederick’s benchmark at the halfway stage, with only Villagomez, Kush Maini and Pepe Marti yet to set a representative time.
The youngest driver on the grid stayed in the Campos pit box for some time as the team worked on an issue, eventually getting underway with 22 minutes remaining.
Martins went quickest in the first two sectors shortly after Marti got on track, and went almost three tenths clear of the Hitech pairing of Frederick and Isack Hadjar.
Jak Crawford and Arthur Leclerc slotted in just behind for Prema Racing, as Oliver Bearman had to catch a slide exiting Luffield which compromised his second sector.
Hadjar then found more time to go another two tenths clear of Martins, who had pitted. Meanwhile, Marti’s first competitive lap put him in P16, 1.2 seconds off Hadjar.
Zak O’Sullivan has received a warm reception from his home fans already this weekend, and he went eighth for Carlin just past the 25-minute mark.
He improved even further to go second with 15 minutes on the clock, 0.186s behind 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine race-winner Hadjar.
Most of the field retreated back to the pits for a few minutes, reappearing with ten minutes to go, with Frederick and Martins slotting in behind Hadjar who had also improved.
Pepe Marti and Stanek both improved to go second and fourth, with Vidales also finding time before the MP pair of Caio Collet and Kush Maini took to the top, four tenths clear of the rest.
Zane Maloney showed his hand for Trident to go fifth, while Villagomez went P15 with three minutes remaining.
FIA Formula 3 Silverstone Free Practice Results:
|1||12||Kush Maini||IND||MP Motorsport||1:44.481|
|2||10||Caio Collet||BRA||MP Motorsport||+0.0s|
|3||17||Kaylen Frederick||USA||Hitech GP||+0.6s|
|5||18||Isack Hadjar||FRA||Hitech GP||+0.6s|
|6||7||Victor Martins||FRA||ART Grand Prix||+0.6s|
|9||22||Pepe Marti||SPA||Campos Racing||+0.8s|
|10||20||David Vidales||SPA||Campos Racing||+0.9s|
|11||21||Hunter Yeany||USA||Campos Racing||+1.1s|
|12||5||Jak Crawford||USA||Prema Racing||+1.1s|
|13||4||Arthur Leclerc||MON||Prema Racing||+1.1s|
|14||31||Reece Ushijima||GBR||Van Amersfoort Racing||+1.1s|
|16||9||Juan Manuel Correa||USA||ART Grand Prix||+1.2s|
|17||6||Oliver Bearman||GBR||Prema Racing||+1.2s|
|18||30||Rafael Villagomez||MEX||Van Amersfoort Racing||+1.3s|
|19||11||Filip Ugran||ROM||MP Motorsport||+1.3s|
|20||23||Ido Cohen||ISR||Jenzer Motorsport||+1.3s|
|21||8||Gregoire Saucy||SUI||ART Grand Prix||+1.3s|
|22||19||Nazim Azman||MAL||Hitech GP||+1.4s|
|23||16||Francesco Pizzi||ITA||Charouz Racing System||+1.4s|
|24||25||William Alatalo||FIN||Jenzer Motorsport||+1.6s|
|25||29||Franco Colapinto||ARG||Van Amersfoort Racing||+1.6s|
|26||24||Federico Malvestiti||ITA||Jenzer Motorsport||+1.9s|
|29||14||Laszlo Toth||HUN||Charouz Racing System||+3.2s|
|30||15||Zdenek Chovanec||VEN||Charouz Racing System||+5.1s|