Thomas Hylkema enjoyed his debut race weekend in the GP3 Series, even though he retired from both of the races in Valencia on the opening lap.

The 22-year-old Dutchman joined the series with the Tech 1 Racing team prior to the event, which marked his first races since completing the 2010 Formula Renault UK season back in October.

After improving in pace throughout free practice and then qualifying, Thomas was just 1.3 seconds shy of pole position in a close qualifying session. Lining up at the back of the grid for the first race he made a good start but his progress was halted when cars tangled in front of him, blocking the track.

With no time to react Thomas ran into the car in front and broke his front wing and his nose cone. He was able to make it back to the pits, but he would be one of five cars to retire on the opening lap.

Race two lasted slightly longer for Thomas, but not by much. He again made progress at the start but made contact with another driver later in the lap, sending him into retirement again.

Despite this, Thomas was pleased with how the weekend had gone as well as his first experience of being part of a Formula 1 race meeting.

“I have to say it was a very impressive event, it's such a new experience for me to be part of an F1 weekend and I enjoyed every minute,” he said. “The races were fairly unlucky, especially the first one as I got caught up in a pile-up that was nothing to do with me. Overall though I think we can be happy and positive too about the progress we made during the weekend.”

“My main aim this weekend was to learn as much as possible. Between first practice and qualifying we made some good improvements and I was much more consistent with my lap times in qualifying, we got to within 1.3 seconds of pole position which is a good starting point. There's a lot of hard work ahead, this is a big challenge in every way.”

Thomas is now looking forward to returning to Britain to race at Silverstone on 9/10 July.