“And more belated thoughts on the 2013 GP3 Series and challengers”

© GP3 Media Services.
© GP3 Media Services.

The GP3 Series have released a provisional 2013 calendar this week with the category announcing an eight round schedule, including its first non-European event.

As with the past few seasons, the GP3 Series is set to commence in Barcelona in mid-May as part of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend; however the series will not be returning to Monaco.

The loss of Monaco alongside the demise of the Grand Prix of Valencia has left a seven-week gap to the next round in Silverstone; however this is set to be plugged by an event in mid-June. No venue has yet been confirmed to fill that slot.

From there, the GP3 Series hits destination Europe hard, with trips to the Nurburgring, Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza following the middle-England contest.
An unwieldy eight-week gap follows, where the GP3 Series will make its début at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. While the Middle Eastern round is certainly welcome, a near two-month gap between the final two rounds is far from ideal, with the season running the risk of deflating in the wait.

There are set to be three two-day tests and one three-day test next year, with GP3 running around Estoril (Portugal) in February, Barcelona in March, Silverstone in April, before taking on an in season test at the Hungaroring at the beginning of June.

Bruno Michel, GP3 Series CEO remarked that: “Since the Series’ inception, the calendar has always consisted of eight race weekends and it will be the case again in 2013. Seven of them will be held during a Formula One Grand Prix which is a fantastic opportunity for all our young drivers.
“The fact that the season will end in Abu Dhabi marks GP3 history with the first race weekend that will take place outside of Europe. It moves the Series in yet another positive direction. It will be a thrilling challenge to the drivers as well as providing a spectacular conclusion for the fans at the Yas Marina Circuit.

It is a shame that Monaco is off the calendar, but I would be surprised if its removal had much to do with the infamous accident between Dmitri Suranovich and Conor Daly this year.
That kind of accident could happen with any car at Monaco. The street circuit around Monte Carlo is, by its very nature, quite a dangerous artefact. According to responses from the likes of Twitter, drivers are going to miss the visit to the principality.

Aside from that, this represents another solid calendar from the series, from is slowly building a positive reputation.
With its first two champions – Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas – due to make their Formula One débuts this year and new champion Mitch Evans set to move to either GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5, GP3 is being served relatively well by its graduates.

Michel also recently commented that: “we wanted to create a clear path for young drivers towards GP2 and F1. We carefully crafted the best tools to prepare them for the next steps and we have seen for the past three seasons that not only did GP3 attract some of the greatest and most promising talents in motorsport, but it’s become a real platform for them to make it to the ultimate step as Gutierrez and Bottas have proven. Having two of our Champions already in F1 after such a short period of time is beyond our expectations and talks volume of the quality of our Series.

Maybe so, but the two chaps also have several bags of talent. Beyond the champions, Robert Visoiu announced via his website that he has signed for MW Arden.
Visoiu’s post also mentioned that he will be driving alongside Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat; however neither Sainz Jr nor Kvyat have confirmed the move and the GP3 Series have also been silent.

2013 GP3 Series calendar (provisional)
Test calendar
February 20-22  Estoril, Portugal
March 12-13     Barcelona, Spain
April 3-4       Silverstone, UK
June 5-6        Hungaroring, Hungary
Race calendar
May 10-12       Barcelona, Spain
June 14-16      TBA
June 28-30      Silverstone, UK
July 5-7        Nurburgring, Germany
July 26-28      Hungaroring, Hungary
August 23-25    Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
September 6-8   Monza, Italy
November 1-3    Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

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