Virtuosi driver Jack Doohan topped the first FIA Formula 2 session to be held at the Zandvoort circuit, a twice red-flagged practice for Round 12 of the 2022 campaign.
Australian Doohan, Feature Race winner in Belgium last time out, set a 1:22.967, three-tenths faster than Japanese rookie Ayumu Iwasa.
Doohan, 19, has two pole positions in 2022 and will hope to convert his practice pace into another front-row start in Friday afternoon’s Qualifying session.
Championship leader Felipe Drugovich, racing for MP Motorsport, was third quickest, the Brazilian’s closest challenge Théo Pourchaire down in ninth for ART Grand Prix.
Dutch driver Richard Verschoor ended the session tenth on the time sheets.
Practice was disrupted by two red flags on the tight Dutch course, with gravel traps waiting to punish just the smallest of mistakes.
First, Van Amersfoort Racing’s David Backmann spun on the exit of Turn 13, bringing lots of gravel back onto the circuit as he re-joined, requiring a red flag for a quick clean up from the track marshals.
Frederick Vesti caused the second stoppage, losing the rear end of his ART car as he took the left-hander of Turn 2, sliding off into the barrier and damaging the front-nose of his car.
Beckmann and Vesti were far from the only drivers to make errors and explore the gravel traps, with Pourchaire, Roy Nissany, Amaury Cordeel and Jehan Daruvala also taking the scenic route of Zandvoort.
Formula racing returned to the Netherlands in 2021, with Formula 3 joining Formula 1 in action last year, meaning those who competed in F3 last year and are now on the F2 grid, have a small knowledge advantage over those competing in Holland for the first time.
That extra knowledge showed with Doohan topping the times and fellow F3 graduates Iwasa, Vesti (despite his accident) and reigning FIA Formula 3 Champion Dennis Hauger all in the top six positions.
Iwasa and Doohan were closely matched in the first two-thirds of the lap, but the Australian held a three-tenth edge in sector three, which includes the banked Turn 14, a real challenge for all the drivers.
The 30-minute Qualifying session for Round 12 begins at 15:00CEST, with two-points on offer to the driver who can set the fastest time and secure pole position.