Belgian-based Dutchman Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 2:10.232 minutes) had an extraordinary start into the fifth season round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The 16-year-old rookie ended up first in free practice at Spa-Francorchamps. At the 7.004 kilometres long track, the longest on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship calendar, he was 0.754 seconds faster than rookie driver Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, 2:10.986 minutes). Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam, 2:11.096 minutes), another rookie, was classified third. Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 2:11.325 minutes) ended up fourth.
In the decisive stage of free practice, the three fastest drivers shone with fastest lap times again and again: initially, Max Verstappen was on top, then Antonio Fuoco took over, only to be outpaced by Esteban Ocon a few seconds later. The Frenchman, who came to the Ardennes as the FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, didn’t last long on top of the time sheets either: a little bit later, Verstappen set an even faster time and claimed back first place. An excursion by Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport, 2:12.664 minutes) and subsequent yellow flags in the first sector put an end to the hunt for even faster lap times.
Rosenqvist followed behind Verstappen, Ocon and Fuoco, albeit with a considerable gap of over one second to pace-setter Verstappen. Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing, 2:11.375 minutes) was classified fifth, once again underlining his current strong form. The American was 0.209 seconds faster than Brazilian Felipe Guimarães (Double R Racing, 2:11.584 minutes). Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 2:11.728 minutes), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 2:11.782 minutes), Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport, 2:11.855 minutes) and Jordan King (Carlin, 2:11.976 minutes) rounded out the top ten. Santino Ferrucci (Eurointernational, 2:12.506 minutes), who is making his series debut, was classified 14th.