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Carlos Sainz Jr showed great improvement in the afternoon session to end Friday practice fastest overall.

The Red Bull junior led most of the afternoon, posting a fastest time of 1:59.322 in the latter stages. Leading the championship after three rounds, the Spaniard fought off a strong challenge from Sergey Sirotkin who was just two tenths-of-a-second adrift in second.

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Fresh from his Monaco podium last weekend, Marco Sorensen knocked three seconds off his morning pace to sit third fastest for Tech 1 Racing whilst International Draco Racing's Pietro Fantin and rookie, Pierre Gasly were separated by just two tenths to place fourth and fifth respectively. Oliver Rowland was half a second down on his team mate, Sergey Sirotkin but showed consistent pace to place his Fortec Motorsports model sixth fastest.

Meanwhile Richie Stanaway, who returns to Formula Renault 3.5 for the first time since 2012, quickly settled into the 2014 Lotus challenger to sit seventh, with Will Stevens, William Buller and Zoel Amberg rounding off the top ten.

In the absence of Britain's Oliver Webb, Oscar Tunjo makes his FR3.5 debut this weekend for Pons Racing and placed seventeenth overall. His time puts him just one tenth faster than team mate Meindert Van Buuren, suggesting that there could be a tough inter-team battle for the Spanish outfit.

Comtec Racing will out of action this weekend after financial problems for Nikolay Martsenko and a schedule conflict for Andrea Roda leave them without a driver. It is not yet known whether the team will return in time for the fifth round in Moscow next month.