Alexandr Smolyar started his second season with ART Grand Prix on a positive note, topping the timesheets on the opening day of pre-season testing in Spielberg, ahead of Carlin rookie Jonny Edgar and his ART teammate, Frederik Vesti.
Competitive times were set in both the morning and the afternoon sessions on Day 1, but it was the second stint that provided the strongest laptimes, with ART impressing in particular thanks to Smolyar and Vesti.
Their teammate Juan Manuel Correa marked his long-awaited return to racing with a solid finish of 13th, just 18 months after the crash in Spa-Francorchamps.
Having not seen a circuit since the post-season tests in 2020, the Formula 3 grid were quick to dash out onto the Red Bull Ring and get a taste of the tarmac, although most returned to the pits after an installation lap.
Charouz’s Reshad de Gerus opted to remain on track in the cool and windy conditions. He set the first competitive time of the morning, lapping at 1:20.823.
Debuting with Carlin, Edgar broke the 1m 20s barrier to climb to P1 as the field started a run of qualifying simulations. The Red Bull junior ended up in 10th at the chequered flag, but he got plenty of work in, completing the joint-most laps alongside his teammate Kaylen Frederick.
A red flag brought the session to a halt midway through when Rafael Villagomez went off at Turn 8. It appeared to be a tricky corner to handle for the rookies, as the HWA RACELAB driver’s teammate Oliver Rasmussen skidded off at the same place with 15 minutes to go.
On just his second outing with MP Motorsport, Caio Collet already looked comfortable in the Dutch machinery, jumping to the top of the order with a lap of 1:19.673.
Second-year Clément Novalak was able to better the Brazilian’s time to snatch first place, knocking the benchmark down to 1:19.522, before putting in an even quicker lap to solidify his place at the top, notching 1:19.162.
Collet attempted to respond, but fell nearly two tenths short and ended up settling for second. His Alpine Academy teammate Victor Martins had a go as well, but was a further 0.036s off, which proved good enough for third.
Vesti managed fourth as he got off to a strong start with ART Grand Prix, while Olli Caldwell recorded the best time of the PREMA Racing trio, scoring fifth, 0.360s off P1 and 0,030s better than his teammate Dennis Hauger in sixth.
Novalak’s teammate Jack Doohan - who dominated the post-season tests in 2020 with Trident - briefly held second before dropping down the standings to P8 behind HWA RACELAB’s Matteo Nannini. While Charouz Racing System’s Michael Belov put in a lap quick enough for ninth.
The field made a swift return to the track after lunch and Collet picked up from where he left off, beating his morning time and returning to the top of the leaderboard setting the standard at 1:19.292. There was then a brief pause as Laszlo Toth came to a stop on track and brought out a Red Flag.
Smolyar was putting his experience to practice around Spielberg and fought up to second, one tenth off Collet. The duo were bumped down the order by Hauger, who set the quickest time of the day so far, notching 1:19.110.
ART unleashed Smolyar on a fresh set of tyres with 15 minutes to go and the Russian rewarded them by breaking the 1m 19s barrier and snatching P1 from Hauger with 10 minutes on the clock.
The Russian was briefly backed up by his teammate, Vesti, but the Mercedes Academy driver fell to third behind Red Bull junior Edgar. Hitech’s own Red Bull recruit Jak Crawford snuck into fourth shortly after and dropped Hauger – also of Red Bull - further down the order to fifth.
Roman Stanek pipped Logan Sargeant to sixth by 0.001s, ahead of Doohan and Nannini, who completed a mammoth 64 laps.
Despite running in first for a period, Collet couldn’t keep up at the end of the session and fell to P10, ahead of the morning’s quickest racer Novalak.
2021 FIA FORMULA 3 CHAMPIONSHIP - PRE-SEASON TESTS, DAY 1, MORNING SESSION
|2||Caio Collet||MP Motorsport||1:19.328||30|
|3||Victor Martins||MP Motorsport||1:19.364||34|
|4||Frederik Vesti||ART Grand Prix||1:19.492||30|
|5||Olli Caldwell||PREMA Racing||1:19.522||22|
|6||Dennis Hauger||PREMA Racing||1:19.545||18|
|7||Matteo Nannini||HWA RACELAB||1:19.561||28|
|9||Michael Belov||Charouz Racing System||1:19.726||20|
|12||Oliver Rasmussen||HWA RACELAB||1:19.905||24|
|13||Arthur Leclerc||PREMA Racing||1:19.905||18|
|14||Logan Sargeant||Charouz Racing System||1:19.964||9|
|15||Alexandr Smolyar||ART Grand Prix||1:19.978||31|
|16||Ayumu Iwasa||Hitech Grand Prix||1:20.014||28|
|17||Jak Crawford||Hitech Grand Prix||1:20.051||28|
|18||Filip Ugran||Jenzer Motorsport||1:20.098||28|
|19||Roman Stanek||Hitech Grand Prix||1:20.102||27|
|20||Pierre-Louis Chovet||Jenzer Motorsport||1:20.125||20|
|22||Juan Manuel Correa||ART Grand Prix||1:20.283||19|
|23||Tijman Van Der Helm||MP Motorsport||1:20.421||30|
|24||Amaury Cordeel||Campos Racing||1:20.446||28|
|25||Calan Williams||Jenzer Motorsport||1:20.456||22|
|26||Reshad De Gerus||Charouz Racing System||1:20.557||34|
|27||Rafael Villagomez||HWA RACELAB||1:20.687||18|
|28||Lorenzo Colombo||Campos Racing||1:20.722||37|
|29||Laszlo Toth||Campos Racing||1:20.735||32|
2021 FIA FORMULA 3 CHAMPIONSHIP - PRE-SEASON TESTS, DAY 1, AFTERNOON SESSION
|1||Alexandr Smolyar||ART Grand Prix||1:18.894||50|
|3||Frederik Vesti||ART Grand Prix||1:19.056||54|
|4||Jak Crawford||Hitech Grand Prix||1:19.085||55|
|5||Dennis Hauger||PREMA Racing||1:19.110||39|
|6||Roman Stanek||Hitech Grand Prix||1:19.197||52|
|7||Logan Sargeant||Charouz Racing System||1:19.198||44|
|9||Matteo Nannini||HWA RACELAB||1:19.288||64|
|10||Ciao Collet||MP Motorsport||1:19.292||52|
|12||Michael Belov||Charouz Racing System||1:19.406||37|
|13||Calan Williams||Jenzer Motorsport||1:19.422||42|
|14||Juan Manuel Correa||ART Grand Prix||1:19.456||48|
|16||Olli Caldwell||PREMA Racing||1:19.491||41|
|17||Arthur Leclerc||PREMA Racing||1:19.509||41|
|18||Oliver Rasmussen||HWA RACELAB||1:19.515||35|
|20||Rafael Villagomez||HWA RACELAB||1:19.642||54|
|21||Pierre-Louis Chovet||Jenzer Motorsport||1:19.711||51|
|22||Amaury Cordeel||Campos Racing||1:19.740||36|
|23||Lorenzo Colombo||Campos Racing||1:19.761||46|
|24||Reshad De Gerus||Charouz Racing System||1:19.933||38|
|25||Ayumu Iwasa||Hitech Grand Prix||1:19.942||55|
|26||Filip Ugran||Jenzer Motorsport||1:20.149||49|
|28||Tijmen Van Der Helm||MP Motorsport||1:20.408||45|
|29||Victor Martins||MP Motorsport||1:20.437||52|
|30||Laszlo Toth||Campos Racing||1:21.198||29|