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The Formula 3 Championship draws to a close at Mugello this weekend with 6 drivers capable of winning the title. Australia’s Oscar Piastri holds a narrow lead over teammate Logan Sergeant, with ART’s Theo Pourchaire some 16 points shy of the leader.

The repercussions from Monza last weekend was still being held throughout the field, with Pourchaire’s hopes for an unlikely championship crown boosted by post-race penalties for Piastri and Sargeant, who received 5 and 3 place grid penalties for the penultimate race in the 2020 season.

While grid position did not prove to be ab obstacle for either driver at Monza, Mugello’s elevation changes and sweeping corners appeared to be less than ideal for overtaking. Conversely, the nature of the track may prove to be the undoing for those who tried to push the hard compound Pirelli tyres beyond their capabilities.

The hard tyre gave drivers two chances for fast laps during qualifying and it was David Beckmann who set the early pace. The Trident driver set the early benchmark, then lowered the time on his second run to a 1:36.069. Sergeant jumped into 2nd from Vesti and Piastri in a PREMA trifecta. Zendeli, Pourchaire, Fittipaldi, Hughes, Fernandez and Hauger completed the Top 10. Lawson finished in 11th with Doohan and Peroni the next best of the Australians in 14th and 15th respectively. Peroni had been in 9th just moments earlier, only to drop 8 places in a stark reminder of the competitiveness in 30 car Formula 3 field as the top 17 were separated less than a second.

Jake Hughes fired in a 1:36.060 to snare top spot and Doohan improved to 10th as the field began to file back into the Pit Lane for fresh tyres with 19 minutes left in the session.

One last chance for a decent grid position presented teams with a quandary; do they go earlier and bank a time or leave their new tyres for a grippier track in the dying seconds? The answers began in the final six minutes as the first of the drivers posted a third flying lap. The other variable were the track limits, while any car the had all four wheels on the green at Monza were penalised, race control seemed to be far more forgiving at Mugello and added more intrigue for the final moments of the last qualifying session in 2020.

Vesti showed the improvement in track conditions with the first lap in the 1:35 bracket. Fernandez lowered the bes time to a 1:35.594 shortly after, 5/100ths better than teammate Pourchaire. Zendeli put his Trident at the top with a 1:35.328, 3/110ths ahead of Sergeant, while Piastri only managed the 7th fastest time still in the 1:35 bracket.

Times were ridiculously close with 1 second separating the top 20. Zendeli held on to pole position from Sergeant, Hughes, Vesti, Fittipaldi, Fernandez, Pourchaire, Beckmann, Hauger and Smplyer. Piastri was 11th, Doohan 12th, Peroni 15th and Williams 25th.

Piastri dropped to 16th after his Monza penalty, while Sargeant fell to 6th.

Race 1 gets underway at 6.25pm tonight, Saturday AEST.


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