Taylor Barnard took the honours of topping the Free Practice session in Barcelona. After most opted to remain in the pitlane early on, the Jenzer Motorsport driver set a 1:28.831 to lead the way, before a late Red Flag disrupted his rivals attempts to improve.
Following in-season testing at the track back in April, it was a quiet start to running. Roberto Faria was the first driver to get reacquainted with the Spanish circuit. With the track all to himself, the PHM Racing by Charouz driver set the initial benchmark at a 1:33.026 around the 4.657km layout.
Waiting and watching on in the pit lane, there was no urgency to hit the track, with teams and drivers already having an abundance of data to hand from testing. However, once the clock hit the 21-minute mark, cars flooded out of the pits for their out laps.
With only a third of running remaining, representative times began to be set. Luke Browning got his first attempt on board with a 1:30.181, which was immediately bettered by Hitech Pulse-Eight teammate Sebastián Montoya with a 1:29.241.
Barnard then put Jenzer Motorsport to the top of the timing sheets, breaking into the 1:28s to lead Caio Collet by 0.020s and edge a tenth ahead of fellow rookie Dino Beganovic.
Turn 9’s fast nature proved to be a challenging point for several drivers. Rodin Carlin’s Hunter Yeany managed to keep it together after sliding through the corner and over the kerbs. Moments later, Piotr Wisnicki brought out the first Red Flag of the weekend, spinning off into the gravel at the top of the hill.
Practice resumed with five minutes remaining, but improvements were few and far between as the hard tyres fell out of their performance window. Nobody could trouble the top three’s times, with Franco Colapinto settling into fourth ahead of Paul Aron and Montoya.
Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto moved up to seventh ahead of Campos Racing’s Christian Mansell, Zak O’Sullivan and Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli, who rounded out the top 10, six-tenths down on Barnard.
The circuit’s revised layout means it’s all down to Qualifying, which gets underway at 15:00 local time.