Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez drew first blood in the Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort by setting the fastest time in free practice this morning.
Reigning Formula BMW Europe champion Gutierrez leapt to the top of the timesheet in the final minute of the half-hour session for reigning Euro Series champion and recent Masters dominator ART. His Dallara-Mercedes' 1m32.354s best out-did his reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who set a similarly late best time, by just 0.055 seconds.
"It was quite a good session, but my focus was to learn the circuit because it's my first time here," said Gutierrez.
"The circuit is quite challenging, with a lot of fast corners, so I just tried to stay out the whole time and learn.
"I am not confident in this result because it is only practice, but I can still find some time in the details of the car and my confidence. I want to win the event and this is a good start."
F3 veteran Sam Bird (Mucke) set the third fastest time to make him the top Briton in free practice. He also set his best lap late, and was just 0.139s shy of the pace.
Euro Series race winner Jean Carl Vernay (Signature) was the quickest Volkswagen runner in fourth, while the winner of the Euro Series' season opening race at Hockenheim, Stefano Coletti (Prema Powerteam), was fifth.
Reigning Master of Formula 3 Jules Bianchi (ART) rounded out the top six, four tenths shy of his pace-setting team-mate and just 0.004s clear of Dutch home hero Renger van der Zande (Hitech), who has previous Euro Series experience and was the top British series runner in seventh.
Reigning McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Alexander Sims (Mucke) set the ninth fastest time, 0.268s clear of British F3 championship leader Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin), who was 12th fastest. Less than a second covered the top 13 drivers.
Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M 1m32.354s
2. Valtteri Bottas ART D/M 1m32.409s + 0.055s
3. Sam Bird Mucke D/M 1m32.493s + 0.139s
4. Jean-Karl Vernay Signature D/V 1m32.598s + 0.244s
5. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M 1m32.660s + 0.306s
6. Jules Bianchi ART D/M 1m32.755s + 0.401s
7. Renger van der Zande Hitech D/M 1m32.759s + 0.405s
8. Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M 1m32.778s + 0.424s
9. Alexander Sims Mucke D/M 1m32.918s + 0.564s
10. Adrien Tambay ART D/M 1m33.112s + 0.758s
11. Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M 1m33.170s + 0.816s
12. Daniel Ricciardo Carlin D/V 1m33.186s + 0.832s
13. Basil Shaaban Prema D/M 1m33.309s + 0.955s
14. Atte Mustonen Motopark D/M 1m33.377s + 1.023s
15. Mika Maki Signature D/V 1m33.564s + 1.210s
16. Roberto Merhi Manor D/M 1m33.690s + 1.336s
17. Carlos Huertas Double R D/M 1m33.758s + 1.404s
18. Andrea Caldarelli SG D/M 1m33.769s + 1.415s
19. Marco Wittmann Mucke D/M 1m33.792s + 1.438s
20. Matteo Chinosi Prema D/M 1m33.865s + 1.511s
21. Tiago Geronimi Signature D/V 1m33.928s + 1.574s
22. Max Chilton Carlin D/V 1m34.120s + 1.766s
23. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin D/V 1m34.141s + 1.787s
24. Laurens Vanthoor Carlin D/V 1m34.186s + 1.832s
25. Daniel Zampieri BVM D/H 1m34.272s + 1.918s
26. Henry Arundel Carlin D/V 1m34.466s + 2.112s
27. Victor Garcia Fortec D/M 1m34.529s + 2.175s
28. Christopher Zanella Motopark D/M 1m34.553s + 2.199s
29. Pedro Nunes Manor D/M 1m34.630s + 2.276s
30. Francesco Castellacci Manor D/M 1m34.728s + 2.374s
31. Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M 1m34.850s + 2.496s
32. Daisuke Nakajima Double R D/M 1m34.895s + 2.541s
33. Riki Christodoulou Fortec D/M 1m35.500s + 3.146s
34. Alexandre Marsoin SG D/M 1m35.555s + 3.201s
35. Cesar Ramos Manor D/M 1m36.573s + 4.219s
36. Samuele Buttarelli Carlin D/V -