CLICK HERE for the first FR3.5 practice results from Austria.
Tio Ellinas commanded the first practice of the weekend at the fifth round of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship from the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
The Cypriot led from the front to dominate much of Friday's afternoon session at the returning race track. A late flourish from Pietro Fantin saw the Brazilian close the gap to just one-tenth-of-a-second, just behind the Strakka challenger.
Fantin's International Draco Racing model displaced championship leader Oliver Rowland to third just one week after his GP2 debut at Silverstone. Fortec's Rowland - who holds a 24 point championship lead - was closely followed by Tom Dillmann and the session's fastest rookie, Roy Nissany.
Early leader Roberto Merhi dropped to sixth in the latter stages after an unsafe release and slow first sector cost the Spaniard a chance to climb positions on the first day of FR3.5 running. Meanwhile, veteran racer Jazeman Jaafar was seventh, Alfonso Celis Jr. eighth and Meindert van Buuren ninth for new team, Pons Racing. The Dutchman sealed the vacated seat at Pons after leaving Lotus in the past few weeks.
His replacement Marlon Stockinger made his first FR3.5 appearance of the season for fourteenth fastest while debutant Louis Deletraz, competing for returning British outfit Comtec Racing, settled for 20th. Swiss racer Deletraz remains is the first and only Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup championship leader to make his feature in the higher engine category mid-season.
Unusually, second practice will take place on Saturday morning followed by two qualifying sessions.