Bird and Maki top Norisring practice

Sam Bird and Mika Maki set identical times at the top of the order in Formula 3 Euro Series free practice at Norisring on Friday afternoon, with Bird getting the top spot having set his time first

Bird and Maki top Norisring practice

The British driver, who took pole position for the season opener at Hockenheim, had his lap of 49.371s matched by Maki's final effort of the one-hour session.

Behind them, rookie Alexander Sims showed impressive pace to be less than one tenth of a second off the pace, ahead of the experienced Jean-Karl Vernay.

Recent F3 Masters winner Valtteri Bottas was the top ART car in fifth, as the French team experimented with a radical rear wing set-up on its cars.

Championship leader Jules Bianchi ran the wing - which features no top element and very small endplates - throughout the session on his way to eighth place, while Adrien Tambay also experimented with it. Bottas and Bianchi both improved their times with the new wing.

Bianchi occasionally troubled the top five on the timesheets, but by the end of the session he was 0.3s off the pace, while Tambay was another four tenths back in 14th place.

Mucke Motorsport continued the strong form it has shown in the early races by getting all of its cars into the top seven. Local driver Marco Wittmann was sixth quickest, while Christian Vietoris was ahead of Bianchi as the pair set the same lap times.

Further down the order, British F3 race winner Nick Tandy was 21st after completing the most laps of every driver, as he prepares to make his Euro Series debut for the Kolles & Heinz Union outfit.

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap 1. Sam Bird Mucke D/M 49.371s 2. Mika Maki Signature D/V 49.371s +0.000 3. Alexander Sims Mucke D/M 49.438s +0.067 4. Jean-Karl Vernay Signature D/V 49.523s +0.152 5. Valtteri Bottas ART D/M 49.574s +0.203 6. Marco Wittmann Mucke D/M 49.636s +0.265 7. Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M 49.652s +0.281 8. Jules Bianchi ART D/M 49.652s +0.281 9. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M 49.726s +0.355 10. Brendon Hartley Carlin D/V 49.734s +0.363 11. Roberto Merhi Manor D/M 49.837s +0.466 12. Tiago Geronimi Signature D/V 49.954s +0.583 13. Basil Shaaban Prema D/M 49.963s +0.592 14. Adrien Tambay ART D/M 50.021s +0.650 15. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin D/V 50.060s +0.689 16. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M 50.173s +0.802 17. Pedro Nunes Manor D/M 50.182s +0.811 18. Matteo Chinosi Prema D/M 50.189s +0.818 19. Atte Mustonen Motopark D/M 50.196s +0.825 20. Christopher Zanella Motopark D/M 50.223s +0.852 21. Nick Tandy Kolles D/V 50.224s +0.853 22. Kevin Mirocha HBR D/M 50.245s +0.874 23. Johnny Cecotto Jr HBR D/M 50.264s +0.893 24. Cesar Ramos Manor D/M 50.305s +0.934 25. Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M 50.480s +1.109 26. Andrea Caldarelli SG D/M 50.648s +1.277 27. Johan Jokinen Kolles D/V 50.761s +1.390 
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