Sainz Jr fastest as second generation GP3 car makes its debut The long winter is over! The GP3/13 car made its eagerly anticipated first appearance for the inaugural official pre-season test at Circuito Estoril today. With a full grid of 27 drivers, the new car has already proven to be a success with a trouble free day and already more than 3 seconds faster than its previous generation on the same track. Two teams join the Series: Koiranen GP from Finland and Bamboo Engineering from the UK.
The atmosphere in the pitlane was electric with nerves and excitement amongst the teams and drivers as expectations were high. Luis Sa Silva (Carlin) made history becoming the first driver to fire up the new 400hp car and venture onto the circuit. The roar of the engine was an incredible sound as it marked the start of the 2013 GP3 Series season.
The drivers got to grips with the demands of the GP3/13 car setting installation laps and gaining a feel of the car and its limits. Eric Lichtenstein (Carlin) was first to set the pace, with Kevin Korjus (Koiranen GP), David Fumanelli (Trident) and Daniil Kvyat (MW Arden) rounding out the top four for the early part of the session.
Russian Kvyat then topped the timesheets with a lap time a tenth shy of the previous track record until the final ten minutes when Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) flew to P1 to set a best lap of 1:29.396 breaking the previous GP3 track record. At the checkered flag it was Ellinas, Kvyat, Fumanelli, Carlos Sainz Jr (MW Arden), Nick Yelloly (Carlin), Lichtenstein, Korjus, Robert Visoiu (MW Arden), Emanuel Zonzini (Trident) and Vicky Piria (Marussia Manor Racing) completing the top ten.
The temperatures dropped following the two hour break as Aaro Vainio shot to P1 after lapping in a 1:28.971 which set a new precedent. Fumanelli posted a hot lap to head the timings until Kvyat marched to the top of the timesheets with a 1.27.616, nearly three quarters of a second faster than the Italian.
At the start of the last hour there was a brief red flag for Ethan Ringel (Bamboo Engineering) after he spun. In the final fifteen minutes, Kvyat’s teammate Sainz Jr claimed P1 setting the day’s best of 1;26.815 over 8 tenths faster. At the checkered flag it was Sainz Jr, Kvyat, Ellinas, Fumanelli, Korjus, Visoiu, Giovanni Venturini (Trident), Patric Niederhauser (Jenzer Motorsport) and ART Grand Prix teammates Facu Regalia and Conor Daly finalizing the top ten.
MW Arden’s Carlos Sainz Jr said: “I am really happy today, this was my first time driving Circuito Estoril and I am P1. So many people had said how difficult the GP3/13 car would be to drive and they were right! I was so surprised with the amount of power and speed, in particular through the corners. It’s very challenging for us and it’s a very good feeling driving a car with 400hp, we had a great base to start with so we will see what we can achieve.”
GP3 Series Technical Director Didier Perrin commented: “Today has been a big success. The car looks beautiful, it sounds fantastic and as anticipated it’s much quicker than the GP3/10. We have achieved over 650 laps on day one of testing. With more power, the car will be much more demanding for drivers’ therefore I am very confident that when we arrive in Barcelona for the first round, we will produce an even better show and a high level of exciting competition.”
Tomorrow's test session will run from 09.00 - 12.00 with a two hour break. The afternoon session will run from 14.00 - 16.00 CET.
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