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F3 Qualifying Results: Great Britain

Formula 3 is back! No rest for the 30 drivers on the grid, as they headed straight from Austria to the iconic Silverstone Circuit

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The #4 car of Leonardo Fornaroli set the fastest lap in Qualifying to take pole position for round six of the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship. The Hitech Pulse-Eight of Sebastian Montoya will start on reverse grid pole for the Sprint race.

Debutant Max Esterson finished P10 in his first outing for Rodin Carlin in the earlier practice session (Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter)

First of all, a change in the lineup of the Rodin Carlin team. The #21 car of Hunter Yeany took part in his final F3 race at the Red Bull Ring last week due to “unforeseen circumstances”, and has been replaced by fellow American Max Esterson.

Coming from a sim racing background and the GB3 Championship, Esterson will be hoping to hit the ground running as soon as possible. For now, the American is due to take part at Silverstone and Hungary in a fortnight’s time.

Looking at the Championship Standings, Gabriel Bortoleto of Trident Racing maintains a foothold at the top, with a sizeable 36-point advantage over both Pepe Marti and Dino Beganovic in joint second. Williams Academy driver Zak O’Sullivan closed the gap to the aforementioned top contenders with a Feature race win in Austria.

Prema Racing extended their lead over compatriot squad Trident in the Teams’ Championship to 42 points (213-171), with Hitech Pulse-Eight a distant third on 128 points.

Several drivers on the grid were looking forward to their home race, including Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard. FormulaNerds spoke to the Briton before Qualifying, and he is enjoying his first ever time at the historic track. He said: “It’s my home race, my first time here… It’s really amazing, even the grandstands are full at 8 in the morning on a Friday.”

The preceding practice session was headed by Luke Browning, followed by Bortoleto and Beganovic. But who would set the timing screens alight when it counts in Qualifying? Read on to find out.

How it happened

First out of the pits was the Red Bull Academy driver Sebastian Montoya, but he wasn’t the first to set the first representative time. After a couple of laps to bring up tyre temperatures to their operating window, it was Jonny Edgar of MP Motorsport who set a 1:48.262.

Gabriele Mini just behind improved on Edgar’s time by over a second, before Browning continued his run of form with a 1:46.250 to claim top spot.

Bortoleto just half a tenth down on Browning, while Oliver Goethe round out the top three with 20 minutes of the session remaining.

The cameras focussed on the pitlane, as the unfortunate Beganovic peeled in with a suspected engine issue with smoke pouring out of the rear of his Prema.

Most drivers opted to continue for a second flying lap on the hard tyre. Marti had his lap time deleted for a track limits violation at Copse corner, dropping the Spaniard to the back of the order.

Gregoire Saucy was unable to improve on P9, but Paul Aron snatched the top of the timing screens with a 1:46.191. O’Sullivan and Christian Mansell improved on their previous times, moving up to sixth and fifth respectively.

The second half

Beganovic had hopped out of his car, indicating that he wouldn’t set a lap for Qualifying. A shame for the driver joint-second in the Championship.

Nikita Bedrin with a minor excursion through the gravel, but meanwhile Leonardo Fornaroli with an exhilarating lap to go almost half a second clear at the top with a 1:45.717.

Mari Boya improved to P3 briefly, before teammate Franco Colapinto moved up to second position. Still almost four tenths to find on Fornaroli though. Boya’s lap was subsequently deleted as he fell foul of track limits.

Times continued to tumble as the clock showed ten minutes to go, as Goethe set a 1:46.201 to go up to fourth place despite a lock-up in the final sector.

The final minutes

The majority of the grid crawled around the circuit in preparation for a few final cracks at pole. Teams debated whether it would be better to stick behind another car for a tow along the straights or get out first to set a lap in clear air.

Montoya was first to put the hammer down, looking to improve on 19th. A 1:46.530 saw him move up to ninth position. Purple sectors for Hitech teammates Mini and Browning, but neither were able to topple Fornaroli from pole position. P2 and P3 respectively for the pair.

Aron went quickest in the final sector to move up to second place, still two tenths down on Fornaroli however.

Two minutes left of the session, just one more chance to challenge for an optimal starting position for the races.

Goethe with a 1:45.646, which would have been good enough for pole but Fornaroli improved his best time to a 1:45.520 to stay at the top. The Campos Racing duo of Marti and Mansell claimed the second row for the Feature race, while Bortoleto finally managed a decent lap to improve to fifth.

Montoya qualified in P12, which means he will start tomorrow’s Sprint at the front of the pack.

Qualifying classification

The top 12 were as follows:

1. Leonardo Fornaroli

2. Oliver Goethe

3. Pepe Marti

4. Christian Mansell

5. Gabriel Bortoleto

6. Paul Aron

7. Gabriele Mini

8. Luke Browning

9. Franco Colapinto

10. Taylor Barnard

11. Jonny Edgar

12. Sebastian Montoya

Official timing can be found here.

Feature Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter


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