Gabriele Minì put together a masterclass on the streets of Monte Carlo to claim his second pole position of his rookie Formula 3 season. Waiting right until the last second of Group B, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver wrestled pole away from Group A’s Dino Beganovic by over six tenths.
Beganovic and Luke Browning fought hard in the first group for the number one spot, but it was ultimately the PREMA Racing driver who narrowly came through by three-thousandths of a second.
With a 1:23.880 the time to beat, Minì left it until his final lap as the session ended, leaving nothing on the table to take pole honours with a 1:23.278.
For the Championship’s first appearance in the Principality, the 30-car grid was divided into two groups with 16 minutes each. Group A, consisting of even-numbered cars, hit the track first in much sunnier and warmer conditions than Thursday’s Free Practice running.
Mansell became the first driver to set a time six minutes in, as most of the field opted for an extra warm-up lap. Once all the initial fast laps came in, Beganovic leapt up to P1 with a 1:25.308, less than a tenth quicker than Browning. The #16 Hitech Pulse-Eight became the first driver to break into the 1:24s, with Beganovic closing his advantage to two tenths.
With less than five minutes to go, Sebastián Montoya demoted his teammate to second, before Browning repaid the favour to drop the benchmark to a 1:23.883.
Utilising the clear air ahead, Beganovic nudged 0.003s ahead of Browning to top Group A as the chequered flag came out. Despite going fastest in Sector 1, the Williams Academy junior couldn’t respond, losing the rear through the swimming pool chicane and was forced to settle for second.
Despite hitting the wall on his final tour of the track, Montoya managed to hold off Franco Colapinto for third. Leonardo Fornaroli ended fifth, as Grégoire Saucy completed the top six.
As his PREMA teammate waited and watched on in the pitlane, Aron set the initial benchmark in Group B. However, the Estonian’s 1:26.150 didn’t stand top for long as Minì stormed over a second clear, with Collet closing to six tenths away in second.
Josep María Martí momentarily snatched P1, but it was the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver who continue to stamp his authority on the session with consecutive fastest laps. Into the final stages, he was three tenths down on Beganovic’s best effort. The Italian fully committed to his final attempt and stormed over eight tenths quicker than Aron.
Whilst those around him fell foul to traffic, improvements tailed off. Avoiding disaster after a brush with the wall, Caio Collet claimed third. Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto couldn’t break into the top three in fourth, ahead of Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard and Martí.
With the results aggregated, Minì will line up on pole for the Feature Race, flanked by Beganovic. Aron claimed third ahead of Browning. Collet and Montoya will complete the third row, ahead of Bortoleto and Colapinto in seventh and eighth. Barnard secured ninth and Fornaroli rounded out the top 10 for Trident.
Finishing 12th overall, Saucy will start the Sprint Race from reverse grid pole with Martí for company alongside him. Saturday’s race gets underway at 11:00 local time.