David Beckmann topped a manic first session of the FIA Formula 3 season in Spielberg, finishing first in Free Practice on his return to Trident. P1 continually changed hands throughout the morning as the drivers began to find their feet back in a single-seater, but the German took the bragging rights, stealing first from PREMA’s Oscar Piastri at the death, with a time of 1:20.434.
With heavy rain falling on Thursday, and into the early hours of today, the cars headed out on wet tyres for the first session of 2020. With this in mind, as well as the lack of racing action since the end of the 2019 season, the cars took their time to feel their way around the Red Bull Ring.
Enaam Ahmed set the first time at 1m 34s, before Liam Lawson and Matteo Nannini took turns in P1, all above the 1m 30s marker.
Having not turned a wheel in anger for more than three months, the field were making the most of their time out on track, as Logan Sargeant and Jake Hughes had a go at the top of the times.
Beckmann was a late entry on the grid for 2020, replacing Devlin DeFrancesco just days ago at Trident, but it was the German who finally took the times beneath 1m 30s to stake his claim for first.
With the track beginning to dry, the field fed their way back into the pits to switch to the medium Pirelli’s, and would remain there momentarily, as they waited for the track to dry off a tad more.
When they did return to the track, the times plummeted thanks to the dry Pirelli’s. David Schumacher sliced the times down to beneath 1m 28s, before Piastri took us under 1m 27s.
The times continued to drop as nearly half the field took a go at the top of the table, with the likes of Sebastian Fernandez, Clement Novalak and Alex Peroni all going fastest for a period. It was Piastri’s name who kept appearing back in first, and the PREMA man topped the times with just a minute on the clock.
He had already taken the laptimes down to 1:20.516, but posted two purple sectors on his final tour as he looked to cement P1. However, his final sector was slower, and this allowed Beckmann to steal first at the death. The German powering round just eight hundredths faster, with a time of 1.20.434.
The Trident man led Piastri, Roman Stanek, Schumacher and Richard Verschoor in the top five. Frederik Vesti, Hughes, Igor Fraga, Fernandez and Lawson completed the top ten. Action will resume at 2.05pm local time, when they hit the track for Qualifying.