Frenchman Esteban Ocon posted the quickest time in a wet free practice session at the Sochi Autodrom: the ART Grand Prix and Mercedes backed driver’s laptime of 2:09.319 was two tenths faster than Jenzer Motorsport’s Ralph Boschung. Marvin Kirchhöfer was third.
Free Practice for Round 7 of the 2015 GP3 Series season was run in damp conditions following rain earlier in the day. However, the heavens opened just as the forty-five minute session got underway providing even more of a challenge, with a large number of drivers making their first appearance around the Sochi track.
As the session commenced in cool temperatures, Kirchhöfer was an early spinner at Turn 7. Seb Morris (Status Grand Prix) led the way before the German driver soon found some pace to top the times. Ocon was in second behind his teammate, ahead of Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon and Boschung.
Numerous drivers ran off in the tricky conditions as the rain began to fall heavier. Swiss rookie Boschung shot to P1, one tenth ahead of the German, before spinning at Turn 18. Ocon improved on Boschung’s time by two tenths before a red flag halted proceedings. Alex Fontana drifted wide at Turn 4, and spun off, making contact with the barrier. His session was over, as the clock continued to tick down whilst his car was recovered.
There was six minutes remaining when the session went “green” with the drivers’ queuing out of the pitlane to head back onto the track. As the weather worsened, the times failed to improve with stoppages and spins for Artur Janosz, Zaid Ashkanani and Alfonso Celis. Jr.
At the chequered flag, Ocon remained head of the timesheet, ahead of Boschung, Kirchhöfer, Ceccon, Series leader Luca Ghiotto, Alex Palou, Jimmy Eriksson, Emil Bernstorff, Sandy Stuvik and Seb Morris.
Qualifying takes place at 09.30 am local time tomorrow morning. The four points on pole could prove very decisive in the fight for the title…