Much like in the previous practice sessions, the battle for P1 again turned into a scrap featuring Felix, Mirko Bortolotti (Italy) and Nigel Melker (Netherlands) – this time with pole position for tomorrow’s season-opener at stake. As expected, drivers were effectively given just one attempt at setting their laps, with the peaky Michelin tyres going off rapidly - sending Felix very much into unknown territory a long way from the Formula 3 qualifying structure of ever-improving lap times on more durable Hankooks.
2011 Formula 2 champion Bortolotti eventually came out on top to grab pole with a 1m32.694s effort, two tenths ahead of Melker and a further three ahead of Felix. Fourth-placed Richard Gonda, meanwhile, wound up half a second off Felix.
Rounding out the top five was experienced 27-year-old Sergio Campana, who finished third overall in AutoGP in 2013 driving the same type of car used in FA1. Further down the list, official Marussia Formula 1 tester Rodolfo González took eighth place, more than four seconds off the leading pace.
Tomorrow’s opening race will run over 30 minutes and feature one mandatory pit stop. Before the lights go out, however, a second qualifying session will hit the limelight tomorrow morning, setting up the grid for Sunday’s 45-minute Race 2.
“An OK session. It felt like a good lap, but we still have some more work to do. We particularly have to investigate a problem we’re having in the final corner, where the engine actually switches off momentarily when we go over a steep crest. That means we carry less speed onto the start/finish straight, which then hurts us in sector one - where I lost four tenths to Mirko and Nigel. Considering that, I think today was pretty good, and we’re ready to take the fight in the race tomorrow. It will be extra interesting to do a pit stop for the first time!”
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- Video: Team Sweden pit stop practice
- How to follow the FA1 opener