Red Bull Ring F3: Beckmann tops first practice of 2020

Trident driver David Beckmann topped the opening practice session of the 2020 FIA Formula 3 season on a drying Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull Ring F3: Beckmann tops first practice of 2020
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The 45-minute session began on a wet track after morning rain at the Austrian Grand Prix venue, kicking off track action for this weekend's long-awaited Formula 1 return. It also marked F3's first competitive running since last September's Sochi finale.

Red Bull-backed Kiwi Liam Lawson (Hitech), F3 veteran Jake Hughes (HWA) and new Prema recruit Logan Sargeant were among those to feature at the top of the timesheets in the early stages, before Beckmann moved to the fore with a 1m30.458s.

The German, who was a last-minute replacement at Trident for Devlin DeFrancesco, then became the first driver to break the 90-second barrier with a 1m29.686s with 20 minutes left.

That was beaten soon after by Matteo Nannini (Jenzer), the nephew of former grand prix ace Alessandro, who held the top spot while the field transitioned from wet to slick tyres.

Another famous racing nephew, David Schumacher (Charouz), kicked off a flurry of improvements with eight minutes left on the clock. 

Schumacher was also the first to dip beneath the 1m25s mark with six minutes to go, before Sebastian Fernandez (ART), Alex Peroni (Campos), Lawson and Clement Novalak (Carlin) all enjoyed brief stints at the top of the times.

Prema's Oscar Piastri then went quickest on a 1m21.377s with two minutes left, and improved to a 1m20.516s less than a minute before the chequered flag.

Beckmann however managed to best the Australian driver by just 0.079s as he registered a 1m20.434s to end the first session of 2020 on top.

Behind Piastri, 16-year-old Roman Stanek, whose place at Charouz was only announced on Thursday, was third-quickest on a 1m20.963s, followed by Schumacher and Macau Grand Prix winner Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport).

Formula Regional European champion Frederik Vesti was second-best of the Prema drivers in sixth, followed by Hughes, Igor Fraga (Charouz), Fernandez and Lawson. American driver Sargeant ended up 12th-fastest in the third of the Prema-run cars.

In her first competitive FIA F3 session, Campos driver Sophia Floersch was 18th-fastest, 1.3s off the pace and one place behind teammate Peroni, who this weekend is set to race for the first time since his horrifying aerial crash at Monza last year.

Of the other famous names, Nannini was 19th-fastest, Jack Doohan - son of motorcycle racing legend Mick - was 23rd for HWA and Enzo Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emerson, was 29th for the same team.

Session results (top 10):

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