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F3 Qualifying Results: Austria

Formula 3 is back for a jam-packed July. This week: the fast and flowing Red Bull Ring

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Pole position for round five of the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship was taken by the ART Grand Prix of Gregoire Saucy. Prema Racing driver Dino Beganovic will line up alongside the polesitter on the front row for the Feature race.

Gabriel Bortoleto currently leads the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship (Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter)

As we enter the halfway stage of the season, let’s remind ourselves of the major players at the top of the Standings.

Brazilian rookie Gabriel Bortoleto leads the Drivers’ Championship. With 92 points, the Trident driver has a 24-point advantage over second-placed Josep Maria ‘Pepe’ Marti on 68 points. The latter is closing in on the Championship leader, following a lights-to-flag victory at his home race in Spain.

The Teams’ Championship is all-Italian at the top, with Prema Racing holding a slim five-point lead over Trident (156 vs 151). Hitech Pulse-Eight are a distant third, on 117 points.

There’s a new name on the F3 grid, as Briton McKenzy Cresswell replaces Piotr Wisnicki at PHM Racing by Charouz for the Austrian and British rounds.

After near-enough a month’s break, the F3 grid is raring to go around the Red Bull Ring. With the shortest lap time on the calendar, a flawless run will be crucial in claiming a good Qualifying spot for the upcoming races.

How it happened

Blue skies with a smattering of cloud, perfect conditions to determine who is really the fastest. Dry tyres for the whole grid. Track limits would be on the forefront of everyone’s minds for Qualifying, as many fell foul in the earlier practice session.

First out on track was the #17 car of Caio Collet, with teammate Tommy Smith peeling out of the pits directly behind.

The field put the hammer down on their third lap to increase tyre temperatures, with Collet setting the benchmark time of a 1:21.078. This was swiftly beaten by the Prema Racing of Paul Aron, quickest in the first phase of Qualifying with a 1:20.578.

Most drivers opted for a second successive push lap. Bortoleto improved to third, while Aron went even faster with a 1:20.521. But his teammate Dino Beganovic usurped him at the top of the timing screens to the tune of three milliseconds. A Prema front row with 20 minutes remaining.

It seemed as though nobody wanted to set off in front, as the entire field ground almost to a halt in search of a tow from a car in front. This led to some pretty surreal images, as shown below.

All cars came into the pits with a quarter of an hour to go for minor setup tweaks and a fresh set of tyres.

The race stewards were hard at work, with many drivers losing their fastest lap times for failing to stay within the white lines. Most notably Bortoleto’s time was deleted, dropping the Brazilian to ninth position. The top three: Beganovic, Aron and Marti.

The second half

A pair of MP Motorsport cars came out of the pits first, but more importantly Marti’s time was also deleted, propelling Gabriele Mini to third.

Just six minutes remaining, and no one had started pushing; who would go for it first? It seemed as though nobody wanted to go, as we saw similar visuals with the entire grid at a single corner.

Red Bull Junior Sebastian Montoya decided to set off first, but without any slipstream he could only improve to P14.

The rest of the field began to cross the finish line, with Franco Colapinto moving up to third, with Oliver Goethe and Bortoleto fourth and fifth respectively.

Bortoleto went for a second flying lap, setting a purple final sector to take pole with a minute left.

But it wouldn’t last long, as Gregoire Saucy went four milliseconds quicker, followed by a scorching lap from Aron. A 1:20.283 almost two tenths faster than Saucy. Pole position for the Estonian driver!

…But NO! Aron had his best lap deleted for track limits, dropping him to fifth. This means Saucy will start the Feature race on pole with Beganovic alongside.

12th position was taken by the #23 car of Marti. This means he will start tomorrow’s Sprint race at the front of the pack.

Qualifying classification

The top 12 were as follows:

1. Gregoire Saucy

2. Dino Beganovic

3. Gabriel Bortoleto

4. Paul Aron

5. Caio Collet

6. Zak O’Sullivan

7. Franco Colapinto

8. Oliver Goethe

9. Kaylen Frederick

10. Christian Mansell

11. Gabriele Mini

12. Pepe Marti

Official timing can be found here.

Feature Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter

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