Zak O’Sullivan was the driver to beat in the opening Free Practice session in Budapest. The PREMA Racing driver clocked in a 1:32.701 to take the top spot during the first half of the session. Mari Boya started MP Motorsport’s weekend strongly in second, three-tenths off the #3 car and Paul Aron secured third moments before a session-ending Red Flag.
On his debut at the Hungarian circuit, Max Esterson took advantage of every opportunity to learn the track. Setting the initial time to beat with a 1:35.804, the Rodin Carlin driver was swiftly beaten by teammate Oliver Gray to the tune of six-tenths.
Fellow Williams Academy junior Luke Browning then took over the lead with a 1:33.726, putting the #16 Hitech Pulse-Eight car 0.792s clear of Nikola Tsolov.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Nikita Bedrin joined Browning inside the 1:33s, as the remainder of the field slowly peeled out of the pits. In a preview for Qualifying this afternoon, finding a gap to put together a flying lap wasn’t straightforward, with a queue of traffic forming on the run down to Turn 13.
PREMA Racing assumed the top of the timing sheets. Dino Beganovic went fastest with a 1:33.186, which was immediately beaten by O’Sullivan’s 1:32.702, and Aron joined his teammates inside the top three.
Boya lowered his personal best to slot into second, three-tenths off the Briton, whilst Josep María Martí moved up to third, less than a tenth slower than his fellow Spaniard.
Rafael Villagómez brought out the Red Flag with six minutes left on the clock. The Van Amersfoort Racing driver spun and crashed into the barriers between Turns 11 and 12. As a result, the session was not resumed, leaving O’Sullivan at the top of the timing sheets.
Boya finished the session in second, as Aron managed to put in one final attempt before the Red Flag to move up into third, demoting Martí to fourth. Beganovic ended up in fifth ahead of Villagómez, Oliver Goethe, Grégoire Saucy, Franco Colapinto and Browning.
Starting positions are vital around the Hungaroring, so the field will need to put their best foot forward when Qualifying gets underway at 15:05 local time.