Beckmann tops first practice of 2020

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 reunite. 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 the type of to feature at the top of the timesheets in 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 right 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 under the 1m25s mark with six minutes to go, before Sebastian Fernandez (ART), Alex Peroni (Campos), Lawson and Clement Novalak (Carlin) all enjoyed brief stints towards the top of the changing times.

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

Beckmann however were able to best the Australian driver by just 0.082s as he registered a 1m20.434s to finish the first session of 2020 at the top.

Behind Piastri, 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 wound 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 week-end is set to race for the first time since his horrifying aerial crash at Monza last year.

Of another 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.

Results to follow