GP3 debutant Nick Cassidy impressed with his speed driving for Status Grand Prix in the first post-season test at Jerez.
The New Zealander won the Toyota Racing Series at the start of this year before embarking on a campaign in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 that was cut short before the end of the season.
The 18-year-old was seventh fastest and second best newcomer on Wednesday morning – the only fully-dry session over the two days. After struggling in Wednesday afternoon’s wet session he was then third and fifth fastest in the two sessions on Thursday.
“The test wasn’t bad at all and the pace was quite strong,” Cassidy remarked. “We were especially unlucky with the weather, as far as being on the track at the right moment on the right tyres was concerned. The first morning was my first time in an open-wheel car since July, so I was quite happy with my performance. The Pirelli P Zero tyres only have a very narrow peak-performance window, so I still need to learn to maximise that. In the afternoon we had a couple of problems but today in the rain we were really fast, so I’m quite pleased with how I went in both wet and dry.”
Another Formula Renault graduate taking part with Status was Miki Weckstrom, making his return to the Silverstone-based squad after testing with them last winter. He was ninth fastest in the dry opening session, two spots behind Cassidy, before slipping back to 12th, 13th and 15th in the remaining sessions.
“The weather was a bit frustrating,” said the Finn. “The first day was positive, although it was the first time I had sat in the GP3 car for a long time, so I took some time to get used to everything again. But I felt quite happy and there were some positive things on the data that showed I could have gone quicker. Today we were unlucky with the weather and in both sessions there were 10-minute windows when the track was drying, and we just missed the opportunity to do a good time on slicks. I’m still feeling positive and looking forward to being in the car again for the next test at Estoril.”
Somerset-based Ryan Cullen made his GP3 debut, following his maiden car racing season in British Formula Ford this year. He finished up at the bottom of the timesheets but was happy with his progress in difficult conditions and against a more experienced field.
“I feel I came on during the two days and learned a lot, not only about the car but about myself as a driver,” said Cullen. “Now I know where I should be over the next couple of months. Weather-wise it certainly wasn’t on my side, and as a person without much experience in racing cars I was having to work out how the car reacts in different conditions. The turbo pipe came off on the last afternoon so I didn’t get as much running as I would have liked. But it was a good two days – I enjoyed the test and really liked driving the circuit in both wet and dry.”
Status have confirmed that Weckstrom and Cullen will be back in action with the team at the second and final test at Estoril in Portugal on 6/7 November.