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F3 Official Tests: Charles Leclerc quickest in the official tests at Silverstone

Rookie Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:50.574 minutes) already was among the quickest in the first official FIA Formula 3 European Championship pre-season tests at Valencia. And in the final tests prior to the season kick-off, at Silverstone, the Monegasque secured the top position on the time sheets. At Silverstone’s 5.901 kilometre GP circuit, he was 0.467 seconds faster than the experienced Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:51,041 minutes) who finished second. George Russell (Carlin, 1:51.054 minutes) and Callum Ilott (Carlin, 1:51.439) – both like Leclerc about to contest their first FIA Formula 3 European Championship season – came third and fourth respectively.

“A good day,” Leclerc said in the evening. “We learned a lot, both about the qualifying set-up and the one for the race. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that I automatically also will be among the front runners this weekend – as testing and racing are two different things. But it goes without saying that it’s my goal to do so.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, however, is one of those who want to prevent this. “The rookies – Charles Leclerc and also George Russell in particular – are extremely quick. In the faster morning session I changed to my fresh set of tyres slightly too late, when the conditions weren’t optimal any more. But I can live with my second position.” In the season kick-off, held at the same venue, he hopes to be able to benefit from his experience. “I don’t feel more pressure than in the previous years, I rather feel more self-confidence. I’m going to enter my third FIA Formula 3 European Championship season and I want to make use of my experience.”

Behind George Russell und Callum Ilott, Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam, 1:51.634 minutes) finished fifth. “Assessing this test correctly is difficult as we won’t see the true balance of power before the qualifying sessions on Friday,” he said. “But I can say that I feel good in the car.” Rosenqvist was just 0,033 seconds faster than Raoul Hyman (Team West-Tec F3, 1:51.667 minutes). The South African was the last driver so far to have joined the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field. Only a few days ago, he signed a deal with Team West-Tec F3. “This was only my third Formula 3 test, he said. “Last week, I tested two days at Snetterton. I’m rather happy with my sixth position.” Marvin Kirchhöfer (Eurointernational, 1:51.893 minutes), eighth behind Markus Pommer (Motopark, 1:51.860 minutes), was also happy with his achievements. “We tried a lot of things, over the course of the day, covered a lot of kilometres and learned a lot. The fact that we were among the front runners right from the start was positive. But I still see more potential, both in the driver and the car.” Like Hyman, Kirchhöfer also didn’t contest the two days of pre-season testing at Valencia and so, he covered his first kilometres for his new team, Eurointernational, today at Silverstone.

The top 10 were completed by Italian Michele Beretta (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:51.898 minutes) and rookie Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam, 1:51.953) from Canada.

Now, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship takes a two-day break before the season will be kicked off this Friday with the first race weekend in 2015.