Preparation ahead of the third season of the GP3 Series begins tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday with a two-day test at Estoril in Portugal. The test is the first of three prior to the start of the season proper at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, with tests lined up at Barcelona and Silverstone before then.
The drivers' and teams' champions ART (now renamed Lotus GP) will take to the track in their new black-and-gold livery. The two drivers they have already confirmed for the coming season – Daniel Abt and Aaro Vainio – will both be in action. F3 convert Abt will hope to resume his form from post-season testing with the French-based squad, when the German youngster was a regular pacesetter. Driving the third car is American Conor Daly, who previously tested for the team in Jerez after his rookie season with Carlin.
The MW Arden and Marussia Manor Racing teams are the only ones to have completed their driver lineups for the new season – and both bring their final trios to the test. At Arden, championship favourite Mitch Evans will be looking to get his preparation for his title attack off the best start, while both David Fumanelli and Matias Laine had impressive post-season testing form. At Marussia Manor, South American F3 champion Fabiano Machado will make his GP3 debut, highly-rated Cypriot rookie Tio Ellinas will look to continue his pace from post-season testing, while Russian teenager Dmitry Suranovich will be continuing his learning at this level.
Silverstone-based Status Grand Prix bring their only confirmed driver for 2012 – Marlon Stockinger. He is joined by Alexander Sims, who raced for Status last year but has now been forced to switch his focus to sportscars, and Finland's Miki Weckstrom – a Formula Renault racer who tested for Tech 1 last October.
Jenzer Motorsport will run their announced driver Robert Visoiu together with Italian Formula Abarth champion Patric Niederhauser (who was quick testing for the team at the end of last year) and Chinese Formula Abarth champion Matheo Tuscher.
New team Trident Racing, who have taken over Addax's entry, will field Vicky Piria who they announced as GP3's first female racer at the end of last week. Fellow Formula Abarth driver Antonio Spavone will also lineup for the team at Estoril, together with experienced GP3 racer Nico Muller.
Another team calling upon the services of a tried and tested GP3 driver is Carlin, who have brought in local driver Antonio Felix da Costa, who raced for them part-time in 2010. Alex Brundle will get his first taste of GP3 machinery ahead of his switch to the series with Carlin, while British F3 race winner William Buller completes their testing trio. Atech CRS have Hungarian GP3 race-winner Tamas Pal Kiss in alongside American rookie Ethan Ringel who will race for the team this year.
Tech 1 only have one driver confirmed for the test – in the form of 23-year-old Irishman Robert Cregan – the son of Yas Marina circuit chief Richard – who was racing in the V8 Supercar Development Series in Australia last year. Mucke Motorsport meanwhile are completely absent from the test.
|Car No.||Driver||License||Team Name|
|1||Daniel Abt||GER||Lotus GP|
|2||Conor Daly||USA||Lotus GP|
|3||Aaro Vainio||FIN||Lotus GP|
|4||Mitch Evans||NZL||MW Arden|
|5||David Fumanelli||ITA||MW Arden|
|6||Matias Laine||FIN||MW Arden|
|7||Dmitry Suranovich||RUS||Marussia Manor Racing|
|8||Fabiano Machado||BRA||Marussia Manor Racing|
|9||Tio Ellinas||CYP||Marussia Manor Racing|
|14||Marlon Stockinger||PHI||Status Grand Prix|
|15||Alexander Sims||GBR||Status Grand Prix|
|16||Miki Weckstrom||FIN||Status Grand Prix|
|17||Robert Cregan||IRL||Tech 1 Racing|
|18||TBA||Tech 1 Racing|
|19||TBA||Tech 1 Racing|
|20||Robert Visoiu||ROM||Jenzer Motorsport|
|21||Patric Niederhauser||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport|
|22||Matheo Tuscher||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport|
|23||Vicky Piria||ITA||Trident Racing|
|24||Antonio Spavone||ITA||Trident Racing|
|25||Nico Muller||SUI||Trident Racing|
|27||Antonio Felix Da Costa||POR||Carlin|
|29||Tamas Pal Kiss||HUN||Atech CRS GP|
|30||TBA||Atech CRS GP|
|31||Ethan Ringel||USA||Atech CRS GP|