ART Grand Prix’s Grégoire Saucy secured his first Formula 3 pole position in Spielberg after a dramatic Qualifying session around the Red Bull Ring. PREMA Racing’s Paul Aron had ended the session fastest of all but dropped to P4 after losing his best time for exceeding track limits.

His demotion moved Saucy’s 1:20.457 up into to P1 and PREMA teammate Dino Beganovic onto the front row. The Swede was just 0.004s off Saucy’s pole time, while Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto secured third place in his #5 Trident.

With patches of rain on the weather radars, everyone was out immediately at the green light. Caio Collet led the way as the rest jostled for track position, and the Van Amersfoort Racing driver set the first time to beat with a 1:21.078.

Franco Colapinto and Mari Boya went quickest consecutively for MP Motorsport before Aron secured the top spot for PREMA Racing on a 1:20.578. He shaved a few hundredths off that on his next effort, lowering the benchmark to a 1:20.518. Beganovic then edged just 0.003s ahead of the Estonian for P1 to cap off a frenetic opening 10 minutes.

Having been bumped down the order as others improved, Collet moved back up to P7 and was one of the only drivers to improve on their second run on their first set of tyres.

With 15 minutes gone, Beganovic headed up Aron, Gabriel Bortoleto, Josep María Martí and Gabriele Minì in the top five. After everyone returned to the pits to fit a fresh set of the soft Pirelli tyres, the track was busy once again with nine minutes remaining.

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There were improvements throughout the field, but nobody could leap ahead of either PREMA driver prior to the final two minutes of the session. Colapinto moved up to third while Oliver Goethe went ahead of Bortoleto, fourth and fifth for Trident respectively.

On the final laps, the Championship leader improved to take provisional pole by 0.044s until Beganovic and then Aron usurped him again. The Mercedes junior managed to go fastest of all once more with a 1:20.283, while Saucy was one of the few late improvers ahead of the chequered flag.

There was one final twist though, with Aron losing his would-be pole lap for exceeding track limits. He wasn’t the only driver to lose their lap. Nikita Bedrin had been inside the top five for Jenzer Motorsport but dropped down to P22 after the session finished.

It meant that Collet ended up fifth ahead of Zak O’Sullivan, Colapinto, Goethe, Kaylen Frederick and Christian Mansell inside the top 10. Gabriele Minì and Josep María Martí will start Saturday’s Sprint Race on the front row, with the Campos Racing driver on reverse grid pole after ending Qualifying 12th.

The F3 Sprint Race is set to start at 10:00 local time.