FIA Formula 3 sophomore Sebastian Fernández has claimed a surprise maiden pole position on his debut for ART Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, edging out Lirim Zendeli by a mere 0.016s on his final flying lap.
Australian racer Oscar Piastri would qualify third while an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance by HiTech GP saw all three cars end up outside the Top 10 with Liam Lawson the highest placed in 12th.
His team-mates Dennis Hauger and Max Fewtrell were 16th and 17th fastest respectively as the trio evidently have some more pace to find before tonight’s opening race.
Fernández started the session with a scintillating lap to head the timesheets in the opening stages with the morning’s early pace-setter David Beckmann in tandem.
But as the Spielberg circuit began to rubber in, Jake Hughes pulled a purple lap time out of his bag of tricks to jump from the fringes of the Top 10 to first with a handful of time in the session remaining.
Though it would only be for a brief moment as Toyota Racing Series graduate Zendeli usurped his position at the top of the field as the 30-strong grid set about for one final shot at pole.
Despite not setting competitive first sector times, Fernandez strung together a spectacular final leg of his lap to pip his rival at the post.
Defending TRS champion Igor Fraga only completed five laps in the session as the Brazilian was sat sidelined in the pitlane following a suspected mechanical issue.
Fernandez is yet to taste victory in F3 but will have his best opportunity he will lines up on pole in the season-opening race which is set to get underway from 8.25 pm NZT tonight.
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