The field snaked composedly through Tamburello after the start, with Felix duly slotting in behind Tom Blomqvist in fourth as the frontrunners maintained their positions. Further around the lap, however, Fortec team-mates Santino Ferrucci and reigning British F3 champion Martin Cao made contact on the exit of Tosa, triggering an early safety car period.
Once the debris had been cleared and the race resumed, Felix put Blomqvist under pressure in the battle for third, but the fight eventually ebbed out and the top five remained unchanged throughout the remainder of the 20-lap event.
Behind them, however, there was plenty of drama – and most of it befell F1-bound Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman – who started from the midfield after serving a ten-place grid penalty following an engine change last time out at the Nürburgring – rose quickly through the field in the early stages, but then ran off the track as he attempted a move around the outside of Jake Dennis for sixth at Tamburello.
After dropping back, Verstappen was then hit by Antonio Fuoco at Rivazza in an incident that earned the Italian Ferrari protégé a drive-through penalty, and later made contact with Roy Nissany to again try out the Imola gravel traps and find himself under scrutiny from the stewards.
Verstappen was subsequently handed a suspended one-race ban for the Nissany clash, effective on his next infringement and valid for the rest of the FIA F3 European Championship season.
The race was won by championship leader Esteban Ocon, who took another step towards wrapping up the title.
With Felix setting the fastest lap of the race – and a further two tours that were quicker than anyone else could manage – there are winds of optimism blowing at Mücke Motorsport going into this afternoon’s second qualifying session, in which the grids for races two and three will be set.
“It was quite a tough race, even though the ultimate pace was good. We still struggle with consistency; we’re really quick when we get it together, but it’s on the edge and it’s very easy to make a mistake. At times today, I was quite a lot quicker than Blomqvist, and at times I dropped back. We should be strong in qualifying this afternoon, though – one-lap pace looks very good, as indicated by my three fastest laps.”
|1||2||Esteban Ocon / FRA Prema Powerteam||20||35’57.565|
|2||5||Jordan King / GBR Carlin||20||35’59.074||1.509|
|3||31||Tom Blomqvist / GBR Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||20||36’00.546||2.981|
|4||27||Felix Rosenqvist / SWE kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||20||36’03.121||5.556|
|5||19||Antonio Giovinazzi / ITA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||20||36’04.852||7.287|
|6||3||Lucas Auer / AUT kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||20||36’09.723||12.158|
|7||28||Jake Dennis / GBR Carlin||20||36’11.603||14.038|
|8||21||Félix Serrallés / USA Team West-TecF3||20||36’15.726||18.161|
|9||18||Tatiana Calderón / COL Jo Zeller Racing||20||36’20.311||22.746|
|10||20||Sean Gelael / INA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||20||36’21.331||23.766|
|11||32||Nick Cassidy / NZL ThreeBond with T-Sport||20||36’27.589||30.024|
|12||26||Dennis van de Laar / NED Prema Powerteam||20||36’31.172||33.607|
|13||6||Edward Jones / UAE Carlin||20||36’34.707||37.142|
|14||29||Sergio Sette Camara / BRA Eurointernational||20||36’41.932||44.367|
|15||11||Richard Goddard / AUS ThreeBond with T-Sport||20||36’42.411||44.846|
|16||25||Antonio Fuoco / ITA Prema Powerteam||20||36’49.550||51.985|
|17||8||Michele Beretta / ITA Eurointernational||20||36’50.700||53.135|
|18||22||Wing Chung Chang / MAC Team West-Tec F3||20||36’55.636||58.071|
|–||4||Roy Nissany / ISR kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||17||31’29.711|
|–||30||Max Verstappen / NED Van Amersfoort Racing||17||31’30.069|
|–||16||Gustavo Menezes / USA Van Amersfoort Racing||16||30’00.164|
|–||12||Alexander Toril / ESP ThreeBond with T-Sport||10||20’12.268|
|–||15||Jules Szymkowiak / NED Van Amersfoort Racing||7||15’14.892|
|–||1||Nicholas Latifi / CAN Prema Powerteam||0||0.000|
|–||9||Hongwei Cao / CHN Fortec Motorsports||0||0.000|
|–||10||Santino Ferrucci / USA Fortec Motorsports||0||0.000|
|–||23||William Buller / GBR Signature||0||0.000|