Liam Lawson was met with tricky wet conditions in his first FIA Formula 3 practice session as the 30-strong grid gingerly slid their way around the Red Bull Ring in Austria with the Kiwi ending the session in tenth.
A last gasp effort by Trident’s David Beckmann would see the German pip Australian racer Oscar Piastri for the fastest time as the track began to dry in the session’s final stages.
The Kiwi was immediately on the pace, setting a 1.32.700 despite a scare at the final corner to head the timesheets as the drivers set about completing their first flying laps.
Lawson suffered an armful of opposite lock on his first timed lap, overheating his Pirelli Wet tyres and was compelled to forfeit his next time.
But as the field began to etch out a drying line around the 4.3km Spielberg circuit, lap times began to tumble with Jake Hughes holding the fastest lap after 15-minutes.
Interestingly, several drivers were spied to be using DRS despite the wet conditions with F3 regulations stipulating the system shuts off when drivers lift off the throttle and not under braking.
In his first race since his horrific accident at Monza, Australian racer Alex Peroni was on fire in the early stages, nestled within the Top 5 at the half-way mark as several teams began to whistle their drivers in for a switch to slick tyres.
Ex-Toyota Racing Series driver Calan Williams was one of the last to return to pitlane and duly set a competitive lap time to leapfrog himself to third as the clock ticked over into its final 15-minutes.
David Schumacher was the first man to venture out on slick tyres with onboard replays suggesting there may be a fair amount of standing water on the circuit at Turn 3.
HiTech GP opted to hold Lawson in the pitlane while several key rivals made the most of the little dry running offered to them.
Previous lap times were immediately annihilated with many drivers sharing brief moments at the top of the timesheets.
Reigning TRS champion Igor Fraga had a wild ride through the gravel at turn 4, narrowly missing the Armco barrier as the young Brazilian pushed his Charouz Racing System machine beyond its limits.
But despite Fraga’s off-track excursion, the 45-minute session stayed green for its entirety.
Ultimately Beckmann’s final time of a 1.20.434 set after the chequered flag provde to be unmatchable. A late lap by Lawson was strong enough to secure a top 10 finish in his first return to action since pre-season testing.
The F3 field will now have a 30-minute qualifying session slated for 12.05 am NZT to set the grid for the weekend’s opening race.