Joel has racked up his first laps in dry conditions at Monza, after predicted thunderstorms steered clear of the track on Friday morning and allowed the opening free practice sessions to take place underneath surprisingly clear skies.
With Wednesday’s official pre-event test effectively a wash-out amid torrential rain, Joel went into Friday practice hoping to get some more productive, dry-weather running under his belt at the quickest circuit on the calendar.
Despite the sound and sight of lightning rocking the area overnight, his prayers were apparently heard, with the two 40-minute sessions being staged in a comfortable climate as the sun graced Monza’s royal park for the first time in days.
Joel quickly found his feet in the new conditions, going a highly promising second fastest in the first session. The pace then picked up in the second practice segment as grip levels continued to improve, with Joel taking sixth on the final timesheets.
Practice saw a 1-2 for reigning champions Prema Powerteam, with the Italian squad leading the way on home soil thanks to Callum Ilott and Maximilian Günther. Joel wound up 0.4 seconds down on Ilott, and just ahead of Jake Dennis – who finished on the podium in all three races at Monza when the FIA F3 European Championship last visited the track in 2015.
Next session: Qualifying 1, 17.00 local time (GMT+02:00)
“I’m actually really pleased that we got to do practice in the dry. It seems like the weather will be fine tomorrow and on Sunday, so these laps were important for me having never gone around here in the dry before. It’s a great track when the grip picks up; you need to carry a lot of speed through some corners, especially the last one! I set my time when running all alone without a slipstream, so there’s more to come, and I’m feeling pretty confident for the rest of the weekend.”
RESULTS – Free Practice (combined)
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WHERE IT HAPPENS
Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Lap length: 5.793 km
Monza FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 1m44.082s (C.Leclerc, ’15)
Latest event: 2015
Most recent winners (2015):