F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Experienced F3 driver Antonio Giovinazzi the quickest, rookie George Russel second on the time sheets

On the first day of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship pre-season tests at Valencia, the 34 young drivers involved in the tests provided a foretaste of what you may expect to witness in the coming European Championship season. The fastest lap time on the first day of testing at the 4.005-kilometre Circuit Ricardo Tormo was set by Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:24.755 minutes), followed by the fastest rookie, George Russell (Carlin, 1:25.005 minutes). With Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:25.141 minutes), Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:25.236) and Alexander Albon (Signature, 1:25.245) another three newcomers completed the top five.

In dry conditions, the young guns used the seven hours of track time to optimally prepare for the things to come. And the quickest, Antonio Giovinazzi, who once again is going to contest the season for Team Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, kept his cool: “You shouldn’t overestimate this result,” he said. “The first joint day of testing mainly is used to increase your self-confidence and to familiarise yourself with the car. It’s the season kick-off at Silverstone where it counts. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have achieved this fine result.”

Close behind the Italian, Englishman George Russell finished his first official appearance at the wheel of an FIA Formula 3 European Championship vehicle in second position. “On used tyres I even was the quickest,” he revealed, “But other than Antonio, I wasn’t able to make maximum uses of the fresh set of tyres. But I also am delighted with having finished second. I couldn’t have expected far more.” Charles Leclerc, another rookie, also was happy with his achievements. “Having secured third position on the time sheets represents a good start in my maiden Formula 3 season,” the Monegasque said. “I already knew that the team was happy with my performances displayed in our independent tests. But I didn’t know where I would be standing compared to the competition. Nonetheless, we have to keep on working on our performance and mustn’t rest on this result.”

Maximilian Günther also refused to be to euphoric following his fourth place in his first official day of FIA Formula 3 European Championship testing. “Yes, it was a good day. But first of all we had the opportunity to try and test a lot and did a really good job. We learned a lot and I feel more and more comfortable in the car. We are making progress step by step and while we are doing so, we mainly focus ourselves,” said the German.

Alexander Albon, fifth on the time sheets, was happy with his achievements. “I didn’t expect to secure such a good result,” the Lotus Junior from Thailand admitted. “We tested at Valencia in late 2014 and in those tests we encountered several problems. Afterwards, we kept on working and now, we suddenly are among the front runners, on this track. Both the team and the driver have made a major step in the right direction.”

F3 old hand Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam, 1:25.267 minutes), followed in sixth place, just fractions ahead of rookie Callum Ilott (Carlin, 1:25.295). Arjun Maini (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:25.296 minutes), Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:25.301) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark, 1:25.474) completed the top 10.