ART Grand Prix driver Victor Martins recorded the quickest time during a disrupted Formula 3 Free Practice session at Imola on Friday morning.
Persistent heavy rainfall throughout the preceding night left the circuit drenched but the session began on time, with the field of 29 eager to check out the tricky conditions.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Ido Cohen registered the first time, but his benchmark was swiftly beaten by Hitech Grand Prix’s Kaylen Frederick as drivers began exploring the limits.
His stint at the top of the timesheets was short-lived as Championship leader Martins moved to the front with a time of 1:50.134s, having recovered from a grassy excursion at the chicane.
Martins remained on top as a sequence of incidents caused a quick-fire run of red flags that prevented drivers from being able to complete hot laps. Early pacesetter Cohen spun off into the gravel at Tamburello while shortly after the restart David Schumacher, returning to Charouz Racing System this week, slid off at Rivazza 1.
Once the green flag was waved once more it was just a couple of minutes before MP Motorsport teammates Caio Collet and Kush Maini suffered separate incidents at the Villeneuve chicane and Acqua Minerale respectively, while Campos Racing’ Hunter Yeany returned to the pits with damaged suspension.
That caused a third stoppage and the decision was taken not to restart the session.
Hitech’s Isack Hadjar emerged as Martins’ closest challenger, finishing just 0.034s in arrears, while Trident’s Roman Staněk was the only other driver in the 1:50s as he classified third.
Early pacesetter Frederick settled for fourth, ahead of Van Amersfoort Motorsport pairing Rafael Villagómez and Franco Colapinto.
Zane Maloney, Zak O’Sullivan, Cohen and Oliver Rasmussen – returning to the championship with Trident – rounded out the top 10. O’Sullivan was the most productive driver in the limited running, amassing nine laps.
The action is set to resume later on Friday at 3pm local time where two points will be on offer in Qualifying in the battle for pole position.