Status Grand Prix’s Antonio Felix Da Costa set the quickest time of the day today marking the start of the final official pre-season GP3 Series test at Circuit de Catalunya.
In a change of fortunes from the previous two tests, the temperature was soaring and there wasn’t a cloud in site as the cars took to the Spanish track. RSC Mucke Motorsport was the first team to have all three drivers across the line, with Christensen going top. Soon after the session was briefly interrupted by a red flag, caused by Addax Team’s Thomas Hylkema going off track. When the track went green Marussia Manor Racing’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs moved to the top of the time sheets, but only briefly.
It was Status GP’s Felix Da Costa who then dominated the time sheets. The 19-year-old Portuguese driver went top with a 1:38.776 lap less than an hour into the session, and rising track temperatures meant his time went unbeaten. Sophomore Nico Müller set the second quickest time ahead of Nigel Melker, Alexander Sims and Valtteri Bottas. There was just one more interruption to the session when Conor Daly hit the tire barrier at turn 3 damaging his #14 Carlin car.
By the start of the afternoon session, it was a sunny 25 degrees, and with a track temperature of 35 degrees the young drivers struggled to match the morning session times. A red flag halted proceedings early on when Christensen made a trip into the gravel trap. Once back underway, Lotus ART was quickest out the box and just thirty minutes into the session the French team filled the top three spots: James Calado, Valtteri Bottas and Pedro Nunes respectively.
GP3 returnee Daniel Morad then found some extra time around the 4.655km track and topped the time sheet for the middle section of the session until heading into the last hour when a recovered Christensen moved ahead. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Lotus ART were back in the top three spots, until new tires saw a final ten minutes shootout between the field. Bottas held onto the top spot in a frantic final few minutes of the session which saw Alexander Sims edge ahead for Status GP. Bottas remained in second ahead of Quaife-Hobbs, MW Arden’s Mitch Evans, and Nunes.
The test will continue tomorrow at 09:00 am local time.
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