HWA RACELAB’s Jake Hughes raised the bar in the first Qualifying session, securing provisional pole at the FIA F3 World Cup, thanks to an impressive time of 2:06.793. The Briton was followed closely by David Beckmann and Jüri Vips, as the remainder of the field struggled to break the 2m 7s barrier.
Track temperature may have soared to 39 degrees by the time the teams returned to action in the afternoon, but this changed nothing for FP1 frontrunner Marcus Armstrong, who set the early standard at 2m 10s.
There was little time for anyone to better the Kiwi, as Enaam Ahmed and Max Fewtrell brought out red flags. Ahmed managed to get going again and head for the pits, but Fewtrell required further assistance. The Renault F1 junior missed the braking point at T3 and slammed into the barrier. Meanwhile, his Hitech GP team were busy working on Yuki Tsunoda’s car, having seen their young driver crash out of FP1 in the morning.
Robert Shwartzman went top when action resumed, as Beckmann missed out by less than a tenth. The duo were shortly blown out of the water by Vips though, who bombed around the Guia Circuit 1.1s quicker than the rest of the field.
With Vips now under 2m 7s, the rest of the grid were struggling to match him. Hughes and Beckmann were able to force just enough out of their cars to topple the Estonian, with the rest of the field trailing behind.
The session endured another red flag when Oliver Caldwell stopped on track at Turn 23, and with just five minutes remaining, many opted to remain in the garage, including Logan Sargeant, Vips, Dan Ticktum and Hughes amongst those to climb out of the cockpit.
It appeared they had made the right decision, as shortly after Tsunoda suffered further misery around the Guia Circuit and bashed into the barriers at the Maternity Bend. This brought out another red flag, with the race director deciding against restarting the session.
This saw Hughes finish the day on top, with Beckmann and Vips propping him up in second and third. Armstrong managed fourth, ahead of Macau rookie Sargeant. Callum Ilott, Frederik Vesti, Shwartzman and Christian Lundgaard completed the top ten.
The grid will enjoy another opportunity to further their understanding of the Guia Circuit tomorrow morning, when the second Free Practice session takes place at 10am (local time).