On the first day of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship tests at Misano nobody was able to outpace 17-year old rookie Jüri Vips (Motopark, 1:27.533 minutes). On his fastest lap at the 4.226-kilometre Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the Estonian who won the 2017 ADAC Formula 4 Championship was 0.089 seconds faster than Spain’s Alex Palou (Hitech Grand Prix, 1:27.622 minutes) who is four years older than Vips. Third position on the time sheets at the circuit located at the Italian Adriatic coast was secured by Ralf Aron (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:27.663 minutes), followed by Mick Schumacher (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:27.664) as well as the two rookies Jonathan Aberdein (Motopark, 1:27.685) and Sacha Fenestraz (Carlin, 1:27.700). Altogether, the gap between the six fastest drivers amounted to just 0.167 seconds and even the 21st on the time sheets was less than a second slower than the quickest.
Jüri Vips set his fastest lap time in the morning session while Alex Palou and Ralf Aron set theirs in the afternoon. “I’m really happy with the car I am provided with by my team, PREMA Theodore Racing. I set my fastest lap time on used tyres and arguably could have been even faster on a fresh set,” said Aron (20) about the first laps he set at Misano with a Formula 3 single-seater.
Behind Schumacher, Aberdein and Fenestraz, the positions seven to eleven all were secured by drivers that are supported by Formula One teams: Ferrari-Junior Marcus Armstrong (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:27.737 minutes) from New Zealand finished seventh, with India’s Force-India protégé Jehan Daruvala (Carlin, 1:27.769) coming eighth. Ferrari-Junior Guanyu Zhou (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:27.782 minutes) from China followed in ninth position and England’s Red-Bull-Junior Daniel Ticktum (Motopark, 1:27.785) completed the top 10. The third Ferrari-Junior among the five drivers was Robert Shvartzman (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:27.788 minutes) from Russia in 11th place.
Zhou who is about to start into his third FIA Formula 3 European Championship season and consequently will be one of the most experienced drivers on the 24-car grid had to cope with a difficult start into the first day at Misano. “In the early stages we had traction problems but later on the day we solved them,” he explained. “Afterwards things ran rather well and altogether I’m quite happy with our achievements on day one.”