Just three days after the pre-season tests at the Hungaroring, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship teams and drivers continued their preparations for the forthcoming season with the first of two days of official testing in Austria. At the 4.318-kilometre Red Bull Ring, Daniel Ticktum (Motopark, 1:23.037 minutes) proved to be the quickest.
The Red Bull protégé was just one thousandth of a second faster than Mick Schumacher (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:23.038 minutes) who came second. Third place was clinched by Alex Palou (Hitech Grand Prix, 1:23.087 minutes), followed by the fastest rookie, Enaam Ahmed (Hitech Grand Prix, 1:23.155 minutes). At the end of the day, three drivers representing Team Motopark, PREMA Theodore Racing and Hitech Grand Prix each made it to the top three.
With only 10 more minutes to go, Mick Schumacher lost his lead to Daniel Ticktum and dropped back to second place. « It was a rather normal day of testing for me, » Ticktum said in the evening. « We tried quite a number of things and I think that we will be able to go even faster than 1:23.0 minutes. But I have to admit that I was slightly surprised by being the quickest. »
Behind Palou and Ahmed, China’s Ferrari junior Guanyu Zhou (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:23.173 minutes) and Estonian Ralf Aron (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:23.221) finished fifth and sixth, with Robert Shvartzman (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:23.283) following in seventh position. « At the beginning things went well for us. Than we tried several things with the setup that proved to work partly fine but partly represented a step in the wrong direction. But that’s what tests are for. Altogether I’m rather happy with my pre-season testing achievements so far but after the good results in the winter tests I had expected to do well, » said the ambitious Russian who is supported – just like Zhou and Marcus Armstrong (PREMA Theodore Racing, 1:23.511) – by the Ferrari Formula One Team and has set himself the goal to make it to the top three in the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
Marino Sato (Motopark, 1:23.390 minutes) as well as the rookies Jüri Vips (Motopark, 1:23.393) and Sacha Fenestraz (Carlin, 1:23.452) completed the top 10. Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin, 1:23.710 minutes), the only Austrian on the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship grid, had to settle for finishing 17th on the first day of testing in his home country.