Formula 3 newcomers Van Amersfoort Racing got their competitive debut in the category off to the best possible start on Friday, as Franco Colapinto took pole position for Sunday’s Feature Race in Sakhir with a lap time of 1:46.249.

With the morning preparations in practice done and dusted, all the drivers headed out onto the field to set the grid orders for the first Sprint and Feature Races of the year in a 30-minute session.

After the opening run of laps, it was Grégoire Saucy who jumped to the head of the timesheet, placing himself just over one-tenth of a second in front of practice pace-setter Roman Staněk.

Most of the drivers returned to the pit lane as the session reached the halfway point, however, two remained on track to set their own laps – ART Grand Prix’s Juan Manuel Correa and MP Motorsport driver Alexander Smolyar. Correa climbed into third place, while Smolyar lowered the benchmark at the head of the field, going fastest by three-tenths of a second over Saucy.

With 10 minutes remaining, the rest of the drivers sprung out of the pit lane and set their minds on their final push lap. Colapinto, who appeared competitive in practice, delivered VAR its dream debut by moving to the head of the pack, where he wouldn’t be displaced.

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OSullivan will start from reverse grid pole in the Sprint Race
O'Sullivan will start from reverse grid pole in the Sprint Race

Staněk came the closest to besting the Argentine, with his effort sitting just a mere six-hundredths of a second down. Meanwhile, Kush Maini produced an impressive final lap for MP Motorsport to go third.

With the Qualifying order setting the starting grid for Sunday’s Feature Race, Saturday’s Sprint Race starting order is decided by flipping the top 12 in Qualifying.

It means that Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan will start on pole position on Saturday, with PREMA Racing’s Oliver Bearman alongside him for company on the front row after both drivers ended Qualifying in 12th and 11th respectively.

ART Grand Prix had all its drivers finish inside the top six, with Saucy, Victor Martins and Correa classifying fourth through sixth, ahead of Zane Maloney and Smolyar. Isack Hadjar and David Vidales rounded out the top 10.

The field of Formula 3 drivers will race for the first time this year on Saturday, with the Sprint Race getting underway at 12.45pm local time.