The final day of the last collective GP3 test has seen ART Grand Prix and Esteban Gutierrez set the day's fastest time during the morning session, while the afternoon saw MW Arden and Michael Christensen come out on top.
The early running in the morning was done on wet tyres as the Barcelona track was still drying out after a rain shower. This didn't put the thirty GP3 drivers off as they all went out on track and tested their cars to the limit – this caused a stop start morning as some of them found the limits then went over them, meaning a visit to the gravel trap or the tyre walls.
As the 4.655km track dried out, the drivers were able to switch over to slicks Pirelli tyres and the times started to tumble, with pace setters ART Grand Prix seeing their young Mexican Esteban Gutierrez match his fastest lap from day one; Michael Christensen set the second fastest time of the morning.
RSC Mucke Motorsport saw their driver Renger van der Zande improving on his best time from day one after setting the third best time of the session, while young Norwegian Pal Varhaug gave Jenzer Motorsport the fourth fastest time – this was Varhaug's best GP3 performance to date.
Manor's James Jakes rounded out the top five, Gutierrez ART Grand Prix team mate Alexander Rossi set the sixth best time of the session, followed by the best of the Status GP cars, that of Daniel Morad.
Eighth went the way of the second Jenzer Motorsport car of Nico Muller, beating the sister MW Arden car of Miki Monras with Morad's team mate, Canadian Robert Wickens rounding out the top ten.
After the three hour session, which saw seven hundred and eighty-nine laps completed, totalling 3700kms covered the top ten drivers were separated by six tenths of a second.
|1||2||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||ART Grand Prix||1:37.467s|
|2||20||Michael Christensen||DEN||MW Arden||1:37.637s|
|3||11||Renger Van Der Zande||NED||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:37.666s|
|4||23||Pal Varhaug||NOR||Jenzer Motorsport||1:37.806s|
|5||7||James Jakes||GBR||Manor Racing||1:37.885s|
|6||1||Alexander Rossi||USA||ART Grand Prix||1:37.975s|
|7||6||Daniel Morad||LIB||Status Grand Prix||1:37.995s|
|8||25||Nico Muller||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.077s|
|9||21||Miki Monras||ESP||MW Arden||1:38.085s|
|10||4||Robert Wickens||CAN||Status Grand Prix||1:38.112s|
|11||18||Pablo Sanchez Lopez||MEX||Addax Team||1:38.138s|
|12||10||Nigel Melker||NED||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:38.329s|
|13||24||Simon Trummer||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.398s|
|14||30||Oliver Oakes||GBR||Atech CRS GP||1:38.405s|
|15||12||Tobias Hegewald||GER||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:38.417s|
|17||28||Fabio Onidi||ITA||Tech 1 Racing||1:38.584s|
|19||29||Patrick Reiterer||ITA||Atech CRS GP||1:38.733s|
|20||17||Felipe Guimaraes||BRA||Addax Team||1:38.777s|
|21||31||Marko Asmer||EST||Atech CRS GP||1:38.837s|
|22||3||Pedro Nunes||BRA||ART Grand Prix||1:38.959s|
|23||26||Doru Secherariu||ROM||Tech 1 Racing||1:39.334s|
|24||8||Rio Haryanto||INA||Manor Racing||1:39.369s|
|25||19||Mirko Bortolotti||ITA||Addax Team||1:39.439s|
|27||5||Ivan Lukashevich||RUS||Status Grand Prix||1:39.895s|
|28||22||Leonardo Cordeiro||BRA||MW Arden||1:40.098s|
|29||27||Stefano Colleti||MON||Tech 1 Racing||1:40.369s|
|30||9||Jordan Oakes||GBR||Manor Racing||1:42.877s|
The concluding session of the two day test for the GP3 runners saw young Dane Christensen rise to the top of the times, thus denying ART Grand Prix complete domination of the Spanish test.
It was a case of last chance saloon for Christensen, who set the best time of the session right at the death, having been behind Gutierrez for the majority of the session – the ART Grand Prix driver proving he is the driver to beat in GP3 this year.
As well as the change at the top of the timings, the three hour afternoon session provided a number of other changes, with eight out of the ten teams represented inside the top ten times.
Behind Christensen and Gutierrez, van der Zande continued his strong Barcelona form with the third fastest time of the session, with Dean Smith of Carlin right behind the Dutchman. The gap between third and fourth was a tenth of a second, between Smith in fourth and Miki Monras in fifth it was eight thousands of a second.
Behind the top five from the afternoon, Morad finished sixth, with Varhaug rounding off his strongest day of GP3 testing with the seventh best time, Canadian Wickens set the eighth best time in the sister car to Morad, while a pair of Brits rounded out the top ten – James Jakes of Manor beating Oliver Oakes in the ATech CRS GP car. This was the first time Atech CRS GP had set a top ten time in GP3 testing. The top twenty-one cars were separated by less than a second.
The afternoon session saw one thousand one hundred and sixty-one laps completed, and the grand total for the two days was three thousand four hundred and seven laps, or over 15,860kms.
Speaking after the final test ahead of the opening rounds on May 8/9, Team Manager of MW Arden Julian Rouse said: “It's obviously really positive for us to finish the last test so competitively, especially as the first event is back here so shortly. ART have been so competitive, so it feels good to finally go quicker than them at a circuit on the GP3 calendar.”
Trevor Carlin, the Team Principal of Carlin commented on the tests and his team's driver signings: “I'm very happy with the testing we have completed this spring. We've have three new eager drivers in the team who have done plenty of mileage to get to grips with the car, and have been steadily improving lap by lap. Although Dean Smith has been setting the bench mark for the other drivers in Barcelona, everyone is progressing, and we now have a good bank of data to compare.
“As a team we still have a lot to learn to get the best out of the cars, but we are finding them responsive to change and easy for the teams and drivers to work with. Barcelona in three weeks time is going to be very exciting to watch.”
RSC Mucke Motorsport Team Principal, Peter Muecke said about the tests: “Over the last three GP3 tests in Paul Ricard and Barcelona we have been working to a meticulous testing program, and have been able to define a good basic setup which works well for our drivers. It is very positive to have a brand new car with such few problems. The GP3 organisers and suppliers have done a brilliant job in the season lead up to give teams such a good car, and solve any teething problems in a short time.
“All of the GP3 teams are well prepared for the first event, and we think that it is going to be a close competition between teams and drivers which will give everybody exciting races. There is still some work to do, but we will be ready!”
Simon Cayzer, Status Grand Prix Team Manager commented on his teams test and who he thinks will be strong in the forthcoming season: “It’s never easy to get on top of a brand new car, and the first test days we worked heavily on reliability. Then during the second half of the last Paul Ricard test and here at Barcelona we’ve worked on performance, and found big areas of improvement.
“ART Grand Prix look strong in all track conditions, but drivers and teams have been testing with different fuel levels and set-ups, so it’s not until qualifying at the Spanish GP that we will truly all know where we stand. What’s a clear factor, though, is that there are 30 very equal and competitive cars out there, and there will be multiple stoppages in sessions – there’s a going to be a great skill in finding a clear lap to set a time, and the fact that some front-runners will sometimes be unlucky is going to mix up the grids and make the racing even more exciting.”
Afternoon testing results:
|1||20||Michael Christensen||DEN||MW Arden||1:37.716s|
|2||2||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||ART Grand Prix||1:37.769s|
|3||11||Renger Van Der Zande||NED||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:37.913s|
|5||21||Miki Monras||ESP||MW Arden||1:37.926s|
|6||6||Daniel Morad||LIB||Status Grand Prix||1:37.969s|
|7||23||Pal Varhaug||NOR||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.024s|
|8||4||Robert Wickens||CAN||Status Grand Prix||1:38.073s|
|9||7||James Jakes||GBR||Manor Racing||1:38.327s|
|10||30||Oliver Oakes||GBR||Atech CRS GP||1:38.336s|
|11||25||Nico Muller||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.357s|
|12||1||Alexander Rossi||USA||ART Grand Prix||1:38.376s|
|14||24||Simon Trummer||SUI||Jenzer Motorsport||1:38.451s|
|15||8||Rio Haryanto||INA||Manor Racing||1:38.479s|
|16||18||Pablo Sanchez Lopez||MEX||Addax Team||1:38.480s|
|17||17||Felipe Guimaraes||BRA||Addax Team||1:38.527s|
|18||12||Tobias Hegewald||GER||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:38.549s|
|19||10||Nigel Melker||NED||RSC Mucke Motorsport||1:38.701s|
|20||19||Mirko Bortolotti||ITA||Addax Team||1:38.702s|
|21||27||Stefano Colleti||MON||Tech 1 Racing||1:38.703s|
|23||3||Pedro Nunes||BRA||ART Grand Prix||1:39.051s|
|24||31||Marko Asmer||EST||Atech CRS GP||1:39.052s|
|25||22||Leonardo Cordeiro||BRA||MW Arden||1:39.186s|
|26||28||Fabio Onidi||ITA||Tech 1 Racing||1:39.197s|
|27||29||Patrick Reiterer||ITA||Atech CRS GP||1:39.273s|
|28||9||Jordan Oakes||GBR||Manor Racing||1:39.350s|
|29||26||Doru Secherariu||ROM||Tech 1 Racing||1:39.637s|
|30||5||Ivan Lukashevich||RUS||Status Grand Prix||1:39.953s|