Lotus ART’s Valtteri Bottas put his early stamp on the GP3 Series by setting the pace in first practice this morning in Istanbul with a lap of 1:52.295.
The second GP3 Series season officially kicked off in Turkey today with an additional early first free practice session. The teams were greeted with wet and windy conditions at Istanbul Park, making for a challenging start for the thirty young drivers. As they got to grips with the tricky conditions, it was Marussia Manor Racing’s sophomore Rio Haryanto who led the way. The 18-year-old from Indonesia headed the pack followed by fellow GP3 returnees Dean Smith for Addax Team and Simon Trummer for MW Arden. Newcomers Lewis Williamson, Gabby Chaves, Bottas and Antonio Felix Da Costa were also quick to find their pace on Pirelli wet weather tires.
As the second half of the session got underway, Bottas moved to the top of the time sheet pushing Haryanto into second spot. Waved yellow flags briefly interrupted proceedings when Atech CRS GP’s rookie Zoel Amberg stopped on track. With ten minutes left on the clock, Bottas stayed top ahead of a charging Smith, Haryanto, MW Arden’s Mitch Evans and RSC Mucke Motorsport’s Nigel Melker.
As the end of the session was in sight, Chaves grabbed the top spot for Addax only for Bottas to snatch it straight back; the Finn then remained unbeaten at the top ahead of Melker in second. The surprise of the session was Melker’s teammate rookie Luciano Bacheta – the 21-year-old British driver ended the session third on his Series debut. Chaves followed in fourth ahead of Evans, James Calado, Haryanto, Smith, Trummer and Caldarelli.
The GP3 Series will be back on track this afternoon at 17:20 (local time) for the second free practice session.
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