Zak O’Sullivan hit the ground running in Melbourne, topping the opening session of the weekend for PREMA Racing. The Briton set a 1:33.470 at the end of the session to head the field into Qualifying.
MP Motorsport’s Mari Boya leapt up the timing sheets late on with a 1:33.528 putting him second ahead of Grégoire Saucy, who bounced back from an off-track moment to finish the morning third-quickest for ART Grand Prix.
It was a very busy track right away as drivers ventured out right away to get to grips with the Albert Park circuit. Gabriele Minì went to the top of the times early on, setting a 1:39.103 with his first effort, but conditions continued to improve rapidly. His next lap was a 1:35.515 to go quickest by 0.6s ahead of Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning.
Saucy had an offroad excursion at Turn 4, running through the gravel on corner exit before rejoining in his ART Grand Prix #8 car. The Red Flag was out with just over half an hour remaining following a crash for Jonny Edgar. The MP Motorsport driver lost the rear going through the fast Turn 10 chicane, spinning into the outside barriers.
Practice resumed with 20 minutes of the session to go. A brief yellow flag for Campos Racing’s Hugh Barter was thrown at the final corner after he ended up sideways. Picking up a bit of the grass on corner entry left him spinning, but he was able to resume without issue.
The timing screens were lit up with purple inside the final 15 minutes with drivers improving all the time. Gabriel Bortoleto, Zak O’Sullivan, Josep María Martí and then Mini took turns at the top in quick succession. The latter’s 1:33.941 restored him to the top of the pile, as Browning filtered in behind once again in P2.
Bortoleto found just enough improvement in the final five minutes of the session to go quickest from Minì, 0.025s quicker than the Italian. That was quickly beaten by Martí who set a 1:33.731 with three minutes to go but didn’t stay there long. O’Sullivan put himself in P1, lowering the time to beat to a 1:33.495. There were late improvements, but nobody beat O’Sullivan’s time but himself. The Briton went 0.025s quicker at the chequered flag to set a 1:33.470 and end Practice in P1.
F3 Qualifying in Melbourne is set to begin at 14:00 local time.