Reigning Teams’ Champions Trident got their 2022 campaign off to a strong start, as Roman Staněk ended Free Practice in Sakhir on top of the timesheets with a time of 1:48.012.

With pre-season testing preparations complete, the field of 30 drivers headed out onto the track on Friday morning to set themselves up for what they hope will be a competitive weekend.

After the opening flurry of laps, it was MP Motorsport’s Caio Collet who set the fastest lap time, however his effort was still some way off the true pace as the drivers eased into the circuit.

There were further changes at the head of the pack before Franco Colapinto moved to the top of the field for Van Amersfoort Racing, the Championship’s newest team on the grid. However, the Argentine driver’s time leading the timesheet was short-lived, as Juan Manuel Correa placed himself into P1, becoming the first driver to dip into the 1:48s.

Times began to tumble as the drivers gathered further experience at the Bahrain International Circuit, with Staněk lowering the benchmark to the brink of the 1:47s lap times.

Leclerc was the second fastest driver for PREMA Racing
Leclerc was the second fastest driver for PREMA Racing

PREMA Racing’s Arthur Leclerc moved himself into second place, less than a tenth of a second behind Staněk. Rookie Grégoire Saucy launched himself into third, behind Leclerc. No other driver would challenge the top three, with Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar going fourth with his late effort, ahead of Colapinto.

In the final 10 minutes, a brief yellow flag was brought out after Reece Ushijima came to a stop in sector one. However, the VAR driver was able to get his car moving again and continued on his way.

PREMA drivers Oliver Bearman and Jak Crawford were sixth and seventh respectively in the session, as both they and team-mate Leclerc look to become the fourth consecutive Formula 3 Drivers’ Champion with PREMA.

There were few improvements in the final in the final minutes, with Rafael Villagómez setting a late time good enough for eighth. Alexander Smolyar and Correa rounded out the top 10.

The action in Sakhir will resume at 4.30pm local time for the opening Qualifying session of the year, where the first Championship points for pole position will be on offer.