GP3 Pre-Season Testing (Paul Ricard, March 4th)

Circuit Paul Ricard.

Much clearer skies welcomed the GP3 runners at the Circuit Paul Ricard yesterday as the second day of pre-season testing got underway.

The better, although cool weather, instantly brought the benefit of more running the drivers, which saw a number of pilots finish the day just shy of the 100 lap mark.

Nico Muller topped the morning for Jenzer motorsport with a fastest lap of 1:20.896 – indeed it would prove to be the quickest turn of the entire day; however the Swiss teenager was not alone at the front of the pack. RSC Mücke Motorsport runners Nigel Melker and Michael Christensen fell just shy of Muller and were also just short of 50 laps in their respective stints.
After having a tough time in the damp conditions on Thursday, MW Arden’s Simon Trummer showed some speed with the 4th quickest lap. The 21-year-old completed 53 laps before lunch as he edged Antonio Felix da Costa out of the lead foursome.

Young Kiwi Mitch Evans also showed well yesterday with the 6th best time. The 16-year-old returned from down under recently after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild Autocourse and is determined to challenge for this year’s title.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs had another good session in his Manor Dallara, pipping the Status GP driver, Alexander Sims to 7th place in the standings. They were followed by a third British driver in the form of Lewis Williamson, who secured 9th on the sheets with a best of 1:21.291.
Aaro Vainio completed the top-ten for Tech-1 Racing. The Eurocup Formula Renault graduate ran 44 laps before the break, managing to keep more experienced heads such as Pedro Nunes (11th, Lotus-ART), Daniel Morad (21st, Addax) and Marlon Stockinger (22nd, Atech CRS) out of the frame.

Following lunch, Alexander Sims returned to the top of the time sheets, but only just – his quickest lap of 1:20.898 was only seven-hundredths quicker than Mitch Evans’ fastest tour. Unfortunately for Evans, the New Zealand native could only manage 34 laps during the afternoon, whereas most runners seemed content to run more than 45 laps.
Next up were Nico Muller (3rd) and Antonio Felix da Costa (4th), showing again that their turn of speed is no fluke. Even in these early days, the stage is being set for possible championship contenders. Behind the top-four, Daniel Morad had a better afternoon, as he took his Addax Dallara to 5th in the timesheets, but only several thousandths of a second quicker than Nigel Melker – another driver that is showing consistently fast times.

Simon Trummer and Valtteri Bottas recorded identical quickest times during the afternoon, leaving them 7th and 8th respectively, with Trummer getting the nod as he set his lap first. Behind them Lewis Williamson again broke into the top-ten, albeit nearly half-a-second down on Sims, while Matias Laine visited the top-ten for the first time for Manor with a best of 1:21.405.
Initially Britain’s James Calado had topped the times, but it was discovered that the Lotus-ART driver had skipped the chicane on his way to recording his quickest lap. His fastest times deleted, Calado dropped to 18th on the sheets, with his “old best” some eight-tenths down on Sims.

With two days of running completed at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the GP3 teams break up until the end of this month, where they will reconvene for a three day test at the Silverstone Grand Prix track in Northamptonshire.

Morning Times:

Pos  Driver                  Team       Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nico Muller             Jenzer     1m20.896s            54
 2.  Nigel Melker            RSC Mucke  1m20.982s  + 0.086s  43
 3.  Michael Christensen     RSC Mucke  1m20.998s  + 0.102s  46
 4.  Simon Trummer           MW Arden   1m21.122s  + 0.226s  53
 5.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Status     1m21.158s  + 0.262s  48
 6.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden   1m21.192s  + 0.296s  57
 7.  Adrian Quaife-Hobbs     Manor      1m21.243s  + 0.347s  39
 8.  Alexander Sims          Status     1m21.288s  + 0.392s  47
 9.  Lewis Williamson        MW Arden   1m21.291s  + 0.395s  58
10.  Aaro Vainio             Tech 1     1m21.464s  + 0.568s  44
11.  Pedro Nunes             ART        1m21.580s  + 0.684s  37
12.  Matias Laine            Manor      1m21.582s  + 0.686s  41
13.  Valtteri Bottas         ART        1m21.711s  + 0.815s  53
14.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Tech 1     1m21.720s  + 0.824s  33
15.  Nick Yelloly            Atech CRS  1m21.740s  + 0.844s  55
16.  Tom Dillmann            Carlin     1m21.752s  + 0.856s  58
17.  Maxim Zimin             Jenzer     1m21.762s  + 0.866s  49
18.  Gabby Chaves            Addax      1m21.772s  + 0.876s  50
19.  Vittorio Ghirelli       Jenzer     1m21.773s  + 0.877s  50
20.  Doru Sechelariu         Tech 1     1m21.833s  + 0.937s  58
21.  Daniel Morad            Addax      1m21.866s  + 0.970s  58
22.  Marlon Stockinger       Atech CRS  1m21.996s  + 1.100s  56
23.  James Calado            ART        1m22.063s  + 1.167s  32
24.  Conor Daly              Carlin     1m22.168s  + 1.272s  59
25.  Bruno Mendez            Addax      1m22.301s  + 1.405s  64
26.  Willi Steindl           RSC Mucke  1m22.328s  + 1.432s  52
27.  Rio Haryanto            Manor      1m22.447s  + 1.551s  45
28.  Ivan Lukashevich        Status     1m22.812s  + 1.916s  19
29.  Kotaro Sakurai          Carlin     1m23.058s  + 2.162s  49
30.  Zoel Amberg             Atech CRS  1m23.204s  + 2.308s  38

Afternoon Times:

Pos  Driver                  Team       Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Alexander Sims          Status     1m20.898s            56
 2.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden   1m20.969s  + 0.071s  34
 3.  Nico Muller             Jenzer     1m21.110s  + 0.212s  43
 4.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Status     1m21.128s  + 0.230s  49
 5.  Daniel Morad            Addax      1m21.189s  + 0.291s  40
 6.  Nigel Melker            RSC Mucke  1m21.204s  + 0.306s  27
 7.  Simon Trummer           MW Arden   1m21.254s  + 0.356s  32
 8.  Valtteri Bottas         ART        1m21.254s  + 0.356s  37
 9.  Lewis Williamson        MW Arden   1m21.341s  + 0.443s  42
10.  Matias Laine            Manor      1m21.405s  + 0.507s  39
11.  Adrian Quaife-Hobbs     Manor      1m21.408s  + 0.510s  41
12.  Michael Christensen     RSC Mucke  1m21.464s  + 0.566s  44
13.  Gabby Chaves            Addax      1m21.464s  + 0.566s  33
14.  Tom Dillmann            Carlin     1m21.548s  + 0.650s  35
15.  Bruno Mendez            Addax      1m21.549s  + 0.651s  38
16.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Tech 1     1m21.671s  + 0.773s  40
17.  Aaro Vainio             Tech 1     1m21.680s  + 0.782s  48
18.  James Calado            ART        1m21.735s  + 0.837s  47
19.  Marlon Stockinger       Atech CRS  1m21.797s  + 0.899s  46
20.  Nick Yelloly            Atech CRS  1m21.808s  + 0.910s  43
21.  Willi Steindl           RSC Mucke  1m21.861s  + 0.963s  45
22.  Maxim Zimin             Jenzer     1m21.938s  + 1.040s  47
23.  Vittorio Ghirelli       Jenzer     1m21.951s  + 1.053s  38
24.  Pedro Nunes             ART        1m21.955s  + 1.057s  40
25.  Doru Sechelariu         Tech 1     1m21.967s  + 1.069s  32
26.  Rio Haryanto            Manor      1m22.003s  + 1.105s  48
27.  Conor Daly              Carlin     1m22.225s  + 1.327s  37
28.  Ivan Lukashevich        Status     1m22.267s  + 1.369s  46
29.  Zoel Amberg             Atech CRS  1m22.371s  + 1.473s  39
30.  Kotaro Sakurai          Carlin     1m22.560s  + 1.662s  51

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