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GP3 Barcelona: Hughes tops first practice of 2018 season for ART GP

British driver Jake Hughes topped the times for ART Grand Prix in the first GP3 Series practice session of the year ahead of this weekend's Barcelona season opener

The session was curtailed after a late red flag for Diego Menchaca's expiring Campos Racing-run car - caused by a hydraulic issue - which set up a late flurry of action.

That remaining time was in turn shortened due to a mandatory virtual safety car check but, as the session time ran out, European F3 graduate Hughes jumped to the top of the order with a 1m32.908s.

He unseated team-mate Anthoine Hubert - the highest-placed driver in last year's standings to return - to become the only driver to get into the 1m32s.

Leonardo Pulcini rounded out the top three in the session to give Campos some cheer despite Menchaca's suspected technical issues.

Nikita Mazepin made it three ART-run cars in the top four by besting Dorian Boccolacci for fourth.

Frenchman Boccolacci had a scary moment at the tight but fast downhill Turn 13 right-hander before the chicane, but still managed to set a respectable time and earn the honour of top spot for MP Motorsport on its GP3 debut.

His team-mates, Niko Kari and Will Palmer, both spent time at the top of the order in the early running, but fell to ninth and 18th respectively.

GP3 debutante Palmer's session was also hamstrung by skating over the gravel at Turn 4.

Tatiana Calderon stopped early on in the session but recovered to sixth, ahead of the highest-placed Trident car of Pedro Piquet.

The son of three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson beat the son of Jean Alesi, his team-mate Giuliano, as the latter had a wild moment at Turn 12.

Alesi carried too much speed into the corner before powersliding into an eventual spin.

The final ART-prepared car, driven by another F3 graduate in Callum Ilott, could only manage 11th in the session.

Practice times

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Jake Hughes ART Grand Prix 1m32.908s - 14
2 Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 1m33.390s 0.482s 14
3 Leonardo Pulcini Campos Racing 1m33.490s 0.582s 15
4 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 1m33.531s 0.623s 13
5 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 1m33.658s 0.750s 19
6 Tatiana Calderon Jenzer Motorsport 1m33.688s 0.780s 16
7 Pedro Piquet Trident 1m33.794s 0.886s 16
8 Gabriel Aubry Arden International 1m33.842s 0.934s 19
9 Niko Kari MP Motorsport 1m33.857s 0.949s 18
10 David Beckmann Jenzer Motorsport 1m33.880s 0.972s 18
11 Callum Ilott ART Grand Prix 1m33.897s 0.989s 13
12 Giuliano Alesi Trident 1m34.077s 1.169s 17
13 Ryan Tveter Trident 1m34.079s 1.171s 15
14 Simo Laaksonen Campos Racing 1m34.213s 1.305s 17
15 Diego Menchaca Campos Racing 1m34.312s 1.404s 13
16 Alessio Lorandi Trident 1m34.454s 1.546s 17
17 Juan Manuel Correa Jenzer Motorsport 1m34.455s 1.547s 16
18 Will Palmer MP Motorsport 1m34.486s 1.578s 20
19 Joey Mawson Arden International 1m34.590s 1.682s 19
20 Julien Falchero Arden International 1m35.055s 2.147s 17


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