Former Formula Renault star James Calado has set the pace on the opening day of pre season testing ahead of the 2010 Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series Championship.

22 Dallara cars took to the track at Snetterton, Norfolk, as the series returnees and series debutants took to a damp and cold track, and set about establishing an early pecking order for Championship honours.

At the end of the day, it was the Racing Steps Foundation backed Carlin Motorsports driver Calado who finished fastest. The 21 year old from Pershore ended the damp opening session 3 thousands of a second faster than another series debutant for 2010, Alex Brundle, in the VW Powered T-Sport car.

The second session, which was held in drier conditions saw Calado continue his opening test domination form, and went even quicker in the VW Powered Carlin Motorsport car, and was one of only 2 drivers to break into the 1m10 mark during the afternoon, the other being new Carlin team mate, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

At the end of the opening days testing, James had this to say about the test:

“It's gone well, and I've learned a lot from today, which is the key thing.”

Local racer, Alex Brundle, from Kings Lynn enjoyed his F3 testing debut with the T-Sport team, and said:

“Snetterton is home and of course it's one of my favourite tracks. It's been a good day and we've made a lot of progress”

As well as ending the day with a 1, 2 result after the 2 test sessions – Carlin also confirmed their full driver line up, with the signing of Brazilian driver Adraino Buzaid. Buzaid, who joins after a successful maiden season with T-Sport, having taken race wins in 2009.

The other drivers within the Champion Teams squad – Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Jazeman Jaafar – both finished within the top 11 drivers.

Oliver Webb, another driver graduating into the British Formula 3 series after a strong 2009 campaign in the Formula Renault UK 2.00 Championship, finished the day with the 5th quickest times in his Mercedes powered Dallara F308 F3 car.

The best of the national runners – another Formula Renault UK graduate Menasheh Idafar finished 7th overall, and was 6th fastest in the wet around his favourite UK circuit. Idafar’s team mate at T-Sport, reigning Formula Ford Champion James Cole finished 15th overall, but a very encouraging 2nd in the National runners.

Not all the drivers present at the test had a good day – Hitech Racing's Brazilian Gabriel Dias had a tough start: he suffered braking problems during the morning session, which caused him to spin, while damage to the chassis meant he missed out on valuable track time, ending up with 19 laps covering both sessions.

The number of cars at the test impressed the Teams Spokesman, Peter Briggs, who said:

“We have 50 per cent more cars at our first test this season than last, and that's a great and very encouraging result. It's fantastic also to see so many international drivers choosing British F3; the prospects are bright for a superb season.”

The 2010 Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series has a further test at Snetterton tomorrow, the 25th February before another 2 day test at Rockingham, on the 1st and 2nd March.

The first 3 rounds of the 2010 British F3 Campaign occur at Oulton Park over the 3rd to the 5th April.