Drivers got to grips with the GEN3 for the first time in wet conditions at what is an already unique proposition in Berlin's Tempelhof Airport circuit. Rain fell overnight with light drizzle in the morning creating a slick track surface for the 22-car field to contend with. NEOM McLaren's Rene Rast required recovery early on with technical issues. Other than that brief Red Flag stoppage, it was a valuable, busy session as teams gathered data.
Round 7 winner Mitch Evans had forewarned his jubilant Jaguar TCS Racing team that despite their maiden one-two they'd need to keep the hammer down overnight in getting things just right on the car given how close things were on Saturday - if they wanted to stand a chance of repeating the feat. The changed conditions in FP3 would have hampered teams' ability to test and compare their overnight tweaks with yesterday's performance in the dry, however.
He wound up top on a 1m15.955s - some 10 seconds down on FP1's dry pace - and fastest with teammate Sam Bird down in 12th. More encouragement for Jaguar TCS Racing, with its car looking quick in all conditions.
The Envision Racing pair of Nick Cassidy and Sebastien Buemi have arguably been the form men in recent rounds, alongside the factory Jaguar duo. The I-TYPE 6 is flying in all colours, and Cassidy, looking to add to valuable points and fifth in Round 7, rounded seventh as he aims to consolidate second in the standings and even push leader Pascal Wehrlein - the TAG Heuer Porsche driver ended FP3 14th as the team looks to get a handle on its one-lap speed.
In race one, Maximilian Guenther became the first driver to take the Maserati name to the podium in 66 years, with Juan Manuel Fangio being the last at the Italian Grand Prix of 1957. "Achieving this at my home race, in Berlin, makes it an even more satisfying way to celebrate," he said. "Knowing that I’m the first driver since Fangio to finish on the podium for Maserati in single-seater motorsport is a great honour."
That was his and the team's first podium of the season, as well as his first points - relief. He'd round 13th in the damp conditions in FP3.
More to practice than pace alone
Ultimate pace isn't always the goal in Free Practice - particularly with this session throwing up GEN3's first test in the wet.
Normally, teams are working through a mixture of race and Quali runs, ATTACK MODE activations, setup and software tweaks and looking to tally what they've learned in the simulator as well as from prior sessions with what those changes mean in the real world, on-track.
It's invaluable and as we're still very early days in Season 9 and with GEN3, it's doubly important.