Swiss racer Nico Muller topped the opening day of GP3 pre-season testing at Estoril.
The GP3 veteran set a quickest lap of 1:31.285 in his Trident machine to put him 0.015 seconds clear of Kiwi Mitch Evans.
In a relatively busy day, Muller completed fifty-two laps in his Renault-powered Dallara, setting the fastest pace in afternoon session, after Evans set the morning pace.
The 19-year-old left it late though – a last ditch run eventually tempted the top spot away from Evans with less than fifteen minutes remaining. With the beginning of the GP3 championship three months away, Muller has yet to formally announce his plans for 2012.
Although Evans displayed raw pace, the 17-year-old only managed twenty-three laps throughout the day – the lowest total bar Tamas Pa’l Kiss’ effort of twenty-one tours.
Antonio Felix da Costa (Carlin, 3rd), Aaro Vainio (Lotus, 4th) and Conor Daly (Lotus, 5th) all broke the forty lap barrier, while 6th place Matias Laine (MW Arden) registered thirty-one circuits.
In an impressive showing of competitiveness, the top six were all within a quarter-of-a-second of each other.
Tio Ellinas secured 7th in his Marussia Manor entry with a best of 1:31.640, followed closely by Pa’l Kiss (Atech CRS, 8th), David Fumanelli (MW Arden, 9th) and Matheo Tuscher (Jenzer Motorsport, 10th).
GP3’s first female racer, Vicky Piria, enjoyed a relatively busy day with her new Trident team. The 19-year-old ran thirty-six laps on her way to securing 22nd place on the timesheets.
There was a brief red flag in the morning when Fabiano Machado spun his Marussia Manor machine into the gravel trap.
British Formula 3 racer Will Buller brought another red flag in the afternoon – the County Down man spun into the gravel just after setting his quickest time of the day.
Pos Driver Team Time Gaps Laps 1. Nico Muller Trident 1m31.285s 52 2. Mitch Evans MW Arden 1m31.300s + 0.015s 23 3. Antonio Felix da Costa Carlin 1m31.361s + 0.076s 42 4. Aaro Vainio Lotus 1m31.461s + 0.176s 40 5. Conor Daly Lotus 1m31.487s + 0.202s 48 6. Matias Laine MW Arden 1m31.498s + 0.213s 31 7. Tio Ellinas Manor 1m31.640s + 0.355s 45 8. Tamas Pal Kiss Atech CRS 1m31.713s + 0.428s 21 9. David Fumanelli MW Arden 1m31.745s + 0.460s 42 10. Matheo Tuscher Jenzer 1m31.867s + 0.582s 54 11. Alexander Sims Status 1m31.941s + 0.656s 53 12. Robert Visoiu Jenzer 1m32.043s + 0.758s 56 13. Daniel Abt Lotus 1m32.089s + 0.804s 42 14. Fabiano Machado Manor 1m32.203s + 0.918s 74 15. Marlon Stockinger Status 1m32.240s + 0.955s 35 16. Miki Weckstrom Status 1m32.252s + 0.967s 35 17. Will Buller Carlin 1m32.677s + 1.392s 42 18. Dmitry Suranovich Manor 1m32.831s + 1.546s 49 19. Antonio Spavone Trident 1m32.849s + 1.564s 53 20. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer 1m32.977s + 1.692s 58 21. Alex Brundle Carlin 1m32.993s + 1.708s 40 22. Vicky Piria Trident 1m33.383s + 2.098s 36 23. Ethan Ringel Atech CRS 1m33.535s + 2.250s 50 24. Robert Cregan Tech 1 1m33.911s + 2.626s 43 25. Yuki Shiraishi Tech 1 1m35.125s + 3.840s 29