Hitech Grand Prix’s Isack Hadjar claimed his first Formula 3 pole position, going two-tenths clear of title rival and Championship leader Victor Martins who will join his fellow Frenchman on the front row.
Oliver Bearman just bettered PREMA Racing teammate Arthur Leclerc for P3, while Kaylen Frederick made it two Hitech’s in the top five.
There were no signs of the damp conditions that drivers dealt with in Practice as Qualifying began, but the wind had picked up from the morning session. Caio Collet was warned of a headwind into Turn 3 as the drivers headed out onto the sun-soaked track.
With long straights comprising much of the Red Bull Ring layout, drivers were very keen to find track position that provided a tow from someone ahead. Everyone was also careful to bring the soft Pirelli tyres into the ideal operating window gently, with no competitive times posted until seven minutes into the session.
Martins finished off the first batch of laps fastest with a 1:19.980, the pack narrowly separated front to back. Bearman slotted into P2 just 0.078s off the ART Grand Prix driver’s time. Leclerc, Frederick and Roman Stanek made up the top five following the opening efforts.
A brief reprieve and visit to the pits came with 15 minutes left of the session as drivers swapped onto fresh soft tyres. Cars re-emerged with 10 minutes to go, Federico Malvestiti heading the queue. Bearman’s exit didn’t go according to plan as he was released into the path of Zak O’Sullivan, resulting in wheel-to-wheel contact in the pitlane. Both were able to proceed with the final laps though.
With the tow being so critical to a fast time, everyone was searching for one. Almost the entire grid trailed one another in the space of a single straight between Turns 3 and 4 ahead of the final flying laps as the session dipped below five minutes to go.
Hadjar nipped ahead of Martins with three minutes left, going 0.014s faster than his compatriot for provisional pole. Hadjar improved once more to go 0.2s clear of the pack just as a red flag came out for the stranded Charouz Racing System car of Zdenek Chovanec. With just two minutes left on the clock, it was confirmed that the session wouldn’t be restarted.
Martins remained second from Bearman, Leclerc and Frederick. Stanek fell to sixth with Edgar, Zane Maloney, Franco Colapinto and Jak Crawford rounding out the top 10. MP Motorsport’s Collet will start the Sprint Race from reverse grid pole after ending Qualifying in 12th.