Top three in the title battle lead the way in opening session
ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon took first blood in the final round of the 2016 GP3 Series season by posting the fastest lap of the Free Practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit. The Thai racer’s best laptime of 1:56.885 was one tenth clear of fellow title rival Antonio Fuoco (Trident). Series leader Charles Leclerc was third.
Following a long break, GP3 Series returned to action for the season finale in Abu Dhabi with the title still all to play for. Arden International’s Tatiana Calderon set the early pace ahead of Trident’s Giuliano Alesi before Jake Dennis topped the times. The Briton bettered his personal best with Nyck De Vries and Leclerc joining him in the top three in the early stages.
Dennis was first to lap into the 1m59’s, before his teammate Albon went quicker. After around 20 minutes, most drivers returned to the pitlane to switch to the super-soft Pirelli tyres; the first time this season the compound has been used.
Jack Aitken found some extra pace to go P1, but with seven minutes left on the clock the times tumbled and Albon shot back up the order, clocking a time a tenth faster than the Arden driver. DAMS’ Santino Ferrucci led the pack for a brief time before Leclerc set an even better time to claim P1.
It became a battle of three title contenders with Albon reclaiming his position at the head of the timesheet, becoming the only driver to clock a time in the 1’56s bracket. Fuoco posted the fastest sector one to go second quickest shortly after. At the chequered flag, Albon remained in P1 ahead of Fuoco and Leclerc. Behind the title challengers were: Ferrucci, De Vries, Nirei Fukuzumi, Alesi, Alex Palou, Jake Hughes and Artur Janosz.
The most important qualifying session of the season takes place later today at 15.10 (GMT+4) – with the results proving pivotal in deciding the outcome to this year’s Champion.
Free Practice
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
1:56.885
17
2.
Antonio Fuoco
Trident
1:57.022
17
3.
Charles Leclerc
ART Grand Prix
1:57.046
17
4.
Santino Ferrucci
DAMS
1:57.180
17
5.
Nyck de Vries
ART Grand Prix
1:57.226
17
6.
Nirei Fukuzumi
ART Grand Prix
1:57.439
17
7.
Giuliano Alesi
Trident
1:57.490
19
8.
Alex Palou
Campos Racing
1:57.601
18
9.
Jake Hughes
DAMS
1:57.653
18
10.
Artur Janosz
Trident
1:57.850
16
11.
Sandy Stuvik
Trident
1:57.901
17
12.
Tatiana Calderon
Arden International
1:58.344
19
13.
Matevos Isaakyan
Koiranen GP
1:58.383
17
14.
Matthew Parry
Koiranen GP
1:59.004
17
15.
Jack Aitken
Arden International
1:59.531
17
16.
Arjun Maini
Jenzer Motorsport
1:59.541
18
17.
Jake Dennis
Arden International
1:59.721
17
18.
Alessio Lorandi
Jenzer Motorsport
1:59.909
18
19.
Steijn Schothorst
Campos Racing
2:00.052
16
20.
Akash Nandy
Jenzer Motorsport
2:00.468
20
21.
Kevin Joerg
DAMS
2:00.525
12
22.
Konstantin Tereschenko
Campos Racing
2:01.795