F3 - Smolyar sets the pace ahead of Hauger in Budapest | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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F3 - Smolyar sets the pace ahead of Hauger in Budapest


Alex Smolyar kickstarted the fourth round of the season in first place, beating Championship leader Dennis Hauger by 0.082s to go fastest in Free Practice at the Hungaroring. The ART Grand Prix driver set the laptime during a late run of push laps, with the PREMA Racing driver in second and Trident’s David Schumacher third.

Standing in for the injured Kaylen Frederick, Jake Hughes was amongst the first to set a laptime around the Hungaroring, punching in 1:36.5050 to briefly top the times. Schumacher and Frederik Vesti both beat the Briton shortly after and took the quickest time below the 1m 36s marker, as the field began to get a feel for the 42-degree track. 

Schumacher’s Trident teammates Jack Doohan and Clément Novalak joined him in the top five after a run of fast laps, but it was the German who continued to lead the way, with Caio Collet diving into second to split the Trident drivers. 

Championship leader Dennis Hauger had been quiet in the opening 20 minutes of the session, but after a spell in the pits the PREMA Racing driver leapt to first place with a tour of 1:35.270. 

The first sub-1m 35s time was finally set with 20 minutes to go by his teammate, Olli Caldwell, who jumped to first with a 1:34.958. Meanwhile, Frederik Vesti resumed his recent battle with Hauger and moved up to third, just behind the PREMA. 

With four minutes to go, the field had time for a few more fast laps and used this period to break the 1m 34s barrier. Smolyar – who took pole at Budapest last season - came from outside of the top 10 to take first place with a tour of 1:33.112. Hauger was unable to match the ART Grand Prix driver and settled into second place, just over a tenth off the Russian. 

After winning for the first time in Spielberg last time out, Schumacher will have been pleased to follow that up with third overall in Free Practice, albeit three tenths off the benchmark. His teammate Novalak was just 0.23s slower in fourth. Despite leading for large periods, Caldwell had to settle for fifth place but did beat out Vesti. 

On his return to action, Hughes scored seventh overall for Carlin and was just five-tenths off the P1 time. Lorenzo Colombo and Ayumu Iwasa both broke into the top 10 during the final set of fast laps, while Matteo Nannini beat Arthur Leclerc to 10th. 

Smolyar will look to take pole in Hungary for the second year in a row when Qualifying gets under way at 1.50pm local time.