The returning ART Grand Prix driver, Théo Pourchaire kicks off the first opening session of the year in Bahrain fastest with a 1:45.264, only 0.055s ahead of his new teammate Victor Martins.
The session started well, with nine rookies showcasing their skills from testing as they’re experiencing their first free practice of the championship. To start, the all-new PHM Racing team driver, Brad Benavides set a 1:48.538 before Carlin’s Zane Maloney set the benchmark to 1:45s.
Enzo Fittipaldi attempted to beat Maloney’s time, which resulted in a red flag in the session as the Carlin driver had to pull over at Turn 1. However, it took a short time for Pourchaire to secure the top spot once the session resumed. Martins settled in second ahead of his main title rival in the FIA Formula 3 championship last year, Arthur Leclerc.
Prema Racing’s Frederik Vesti ended up fourth, DAMS driver Ayumu Iwasa rounded out the top five. Maloney gave his best to hold on to sixth ahead of the most experienced driver on the grid, Ralph Boschung, who claimed seventh for Campos Racing. MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger claimed eighth.
Lastly, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor ended the 45 minutes long session in ninth, only 0.031s ahead of rookie Kush Maini, who took the final spot inside the top ten for Campos.
The 22-strong grid will return for Qualifying at 19:30 local time in Bahrain (16:30 GMT).
Image: Dutch Photo Agency