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.
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
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