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Muller tops timesheets on day one of testing in Estoril
GP3 Series testing for 2012 opened under beautiful warm sunshine and clear blue skies at the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal today. Nico Muller for Trident Racing came out on top by posting the fast time of both sessions in a fiercely competitive day one of testing in Portugal. The experienced GP3 driver who has yet to sign with a team for 2012, captured the top spot in the standings within the final fifteen minutes of the afternoon session, after it looked likely Mitch Evans would head the pack after the first day. Müller ended the session with the smallest of advantages over the New Zealander, just 0.014s.

It was Evans for MW Arden who commanded the morning session by nearly half a second over Finnish driver Aaro Vainio. The young sophomore only ran 7 laps to complete the quickest time over his rivals. It was a successful morning for MW Arden with Matias Laine also in fourth. Marussia Manor Racing’s driver Tio Ellinas continued his good form from the winter testing in 2011 and was an impressive third fastest.

Returnee GP3 drivers Tamas Pal Kiss, Alexander Sims and Marlon Stockinger held the next positions on the timesheets with fifth, sixth and seventh. Swiss driver and newcomer Mateo Tuscher, at just 15 years old, posted the eighth fastest time for Jenzer Motorsport. Müller finished P9.

The morning session was briefly red flagged when Machado made a visit to the gravel bed after going wide. The Brazilian unfortunately stalled the car but managed to claim the tenth fastest time overall.

First control in the afternoon session went to Lotus GP, whose drivers held the top three positions for the first half of the session. The trio of Vainio, Conor Daly and Daniel Abt were then split by the fast charging Portuguese star Antonio Felix da Costa who rose to the top of the standings in the last hour. That was until the Evans regained control in the latter stages, edging out Da Costa by the smallest of margins.

Müller jumped up the standings in the final fifteen minutes to grab the quickest time of the day, ahead of the Evans, Da Costa, Vainio, Daly and Laine. Cyrpiot driver Ellinas again matched his morning’s form by securing the seventh fastest time ahead of the Hungarian and former GP3 race winner Pal Kiss.  David Fumanelli made it three Arden cars in the top ten, showing a very competitive performance. Tuscher on his debut was again inside the top ten with the eighth fastest time.

The afternoon session was red flagged following an incident involving William Buller for Carlin who spun into the gravel after posting the fourth quickest time.

The test will resume tomorrow at 09.00 for the second and final day of testing in Portugal. There will only be a one hour break from lunch between 12.00 and 13.00 with proceedings drawing to a close at 16.00.

Morning session

Pos Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Mitch Evans MW Arden 1’31.371 7
2. Aaro Vainio Lotus GP 1’31.820 12
3. Tio Ellinas Marussia Manor Racing 1’32.194 15
4. Matias Laine MW Arden 1’32.218 9
5. Tamás Pál Kiss Atech CRS GP 1’32.225 7
6. Alexander Sims Status Grand Prix 1’32.308 26
7. Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1’32.350 11
8. MathéoTuscher Jenzer Motorsport 1’32.397 25
9. Nico Müller Trident Racing 1’32.405 26
10. Fabiano Machado Marussia Manor Racing 1’32.489 35
11. Antonio Felix Da Costa Carlin 1’32.574 15
12. Conor Daly Lotus GP 1’32.741 14
13. Miki Weckstrom Status Grand Prix 1’32.837 9
14. Daniel Abt Lotus GP 1’32.845 14
15. David Fumanelli MW Arden 1’32.892 9
16. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer Motorsport 1’32.977 28
17. William Buller Carlin 1’32.997 16
18. Alex Brundle Carlin 1’33.007 10
19. Robert Visoiu Jenzer Motorsport 1’33.246 21
20. Dmitry Suranovich Marussia Manor Racing 1’33.912 16
21. Antonio Spavone Trident Racing 1’34.112 23
22. Ethan Ringel Atech CRS GP 1’34.377 21
23. Vicky Piria Trident Racing 1’34.456 11
24. Robert Cregan Tech 1 Racing 1’35.212 15
25. Yuki Shiraishi Tech 1 Racing 1’36.614 8

Afternoon Session

Pos Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Nico Müller Trident Racing 1’31.285 26
2. Mitch Evans MW Arden 1’31.300 16
3. Antonio Felix Da Costa Carlin 1’31.361 27
4. Aaro Vainio Lotus GP 1’31.461 28
5. Conor Daly Lotus GP 1’31.487 34
6. Matias Laine MW Arden 1’31.498 22
7. Tio Ellinas Marussia Manor Racing 1’31.640 30
8. Tamás Pál Kiss Atech CRS GP 1’31.713 14
9. David Fumanelli MW Arden 1’31.745 33
10. MathéoTuscher Jenzer Motorsport 1’31.867 29
11. Alexander Sims Status Grand Prix      1’31.941 32
12. Robert Visoiu Jenzer Motorsport 1’32.043 30
13. Daniel Abt Lotus GP 1’32.089 28
14. Fabiano Machado Marussia Manor Racing 1’32.203 39
15. Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1’32.240 24
16. Micki Weckstrom Status Grand Prix 1’32.252 26
17. William Buller Carlin 1’32.677 26
18. Dmitry Suranovich Marussia Manor Racing 1’32.831 33
19. Antonio Spavone Trident Racing 1’32.849 30
20. Alex Brundle Carlin 1’32.993 30
21. Vicky Piria Trident Racing 1’33.383 25
22. Ethan Ringel Atech CRS GP 1’33.535 29
23. Robert Cregan Tech 1 Racing 1’33.911 28
24. Yuki Shiraishi Tech 1 Racing 1’35.125 21
25. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer Motorsport 12'17.532. 1
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