Gabriele Minì was back in contention after qualifying fourth in Spielberg, even if he did feel that pole position was on the cards if not for some late traffic.

The PREMA Racing driver enjoyed a strong Qualifying, going to provisional pole in the opening exchanges before being pushed down to second by Van Amersfoort Racing’s Noel León.

On his second set of flying laps, Minì set a time of 1:20.417 to move up to fourth, finishing 0.195s off pole-sitter Luke Browning.

Minì had been going quicker in the first couple of sectors on his final effort but appeared to meet traffic in the final portion of the lap, much to his frustration.

QUALIFYING: Browning takes maiden F3 Pole Position in Spielberg

“We started off quite strong,” said Minì. “Already from the first push we were in P1 and then we were P2 for most of the session, even after my first push I was either P2 or P3 on my second set.

“It's a shame because I started the lap really far away from the car ahead, but then they were very slow and I caught them and then I lost everything from T6 to the end, before that I was probably on the lap that was good enough to go onto pole.

“I was improving two or three tenths from my first push, which was the gap to P1. It's a shame but it is what it is. We have the pace, we are pretty fast, we start tomorrow trying to get a few more points and then we will try to fight in Sunday's race.”

Minì qualified fourth fastest for PREMA Racing in Spielberg
Minì qualified fourth fastest for PREMA Racing in Spielberg

It marks a return to form for Minì who qualified 15th in Barcelona before going on to score zero points across both races.

The Italian is pleased with this but says the pace has always been there, despite his struggles at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

“Of course, in Barcelona we were pretty quick in FP, quick on the first set, quick on the second set, and then just on the last set, a small issue happened,” continued Minì. “I couldn't really improve my lap time, and everyone improved massively so it was a really big shame.

PRACTICE: Wurz quickest for Jenzer in opening Spielberg session

“In the race we tried many things to try and gain a few positions but it doesn't always work out. It was a pretty poor weekend but it's good to be back again in the top five.”

With three long DRS zones, the Red Bull Ring is known for being a track that gives drivers a powerful tow if they follow another closely.

Therefore, it caught the attention of many when Browning took pole without getting the benefit of a slipstream. Minì, though, was not surprised by the performance of his Hitech rival.

“Usually it has happened in F1,” explained Minì. “Everyone is trying to go for a tow like in Monza but then you see people without a tow get pole. In the end it just allows you to push so much more in the corners which with a slipstream, you make up what you lose in the corners.

Minì is keen to learn as much as he can from the Sprint ahead of the Feature Race
Minì is keen to learn as much as he can from the Sprint ahead of the Feature Race

“It's not perfect. It's probably one or two-tenths, they were looking strong, and he obviously did a good lap, so not surprised.”

The Italian was joined in the top five by his teammates Arvid Lindblad, who qualified second, and Dino Beganovic in fifth but says he is expecting a “clean” battle between the trio should they have to go wheel-to-wheel during the races.

Wurz: Top 12 the goal with promising Spielberg pace

But for now, his main focus is on the Sprint Race, where is he set to line up in ninth and the PREMA driver is hopeful of using the event as a learning tool for Sunday.

“We will see tomorrow,” said Minì of the weekend ahead. “Every race is its own story so we will have to see and understand, get the data from tomorrow's race, get every info and work as hard as possible to make Sunday's race even better.

“I have full confidence in the team, we have had pretty strong pace in almost every track, so pretty confident heading into tomorrow.”