British drivers dominated proceedings in free practice of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 2.76 kilometres long circuit on the streets of Pau. Brits Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam, 1m10.914s), Jake Dennis (Carlin, 1m10.919s), Lando Norris (Carlin, 1m11.015s) as the best-placed rookie and Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix, 1m11.299s) occupied the top positions at a drying track. With his time, Ilott was only 0.005 seconds faster than his closest rival Jake Dennis. Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1m11.465s), Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix, 1m12.049s), Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin, 1m12.111s) and Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam, 1m12.135s) followed in fifth to eighth place.
Free practice got underway at a damp track that dried out more and more as the session progressed. Accordingly, the young drivers improved their lap times with almost every flying lap they completed. While the fastest time in the first half of the session, split up into two parts as usual, was just under 1m19s, the pace-setter in the second part was over eight seconds faster.
Callum Ilott proved to be unbeatable in both segments. Still, free practice had plenty of variety in store with many position and lead changes. Ilott, Dennis and Norris ranked among the front runners almost throughout the session, while Hughes only came to the fore in the second segment. His Russian team-mate Nikita Mazepin also manged to improve during the second part: he even ranked in first place with about ten minutes remaining, but eventually ended up sixth. Just ahead of him, Australian Joey Mawson was classified as the second-best rookie.
Only on his final flying lap, Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg moved up into seventh place to topple German Maximilian Günther, runner-up from last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship, to eighth place. Chinese Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam, 1m12.160s) and German Mick Schumacher (Prema Powerteam, 1m12.438s) rounded out the top ten.
This afternoon, first qualifying is on from 15.25 hrs. Due to the relatively short track, the field will be split up into two groups for qualifying.