GP3 2012 is go!
The third season of the GP3 Series kicks off this weekend in Barcelona with nine teams and twenty-six drivers who will take to the 4.655km track at the Circuit de Catalunya in the GP3/10 car on Pirelli tyres.
This season, two teams join the Series: Trident Racing and Ocean Racing Technology whilst Lotus ART who celebrated both driver and team’s title success in 2010 and 2011 have been renamed Lotus GP.
The opening round of the 2012 campaign sees eighteen rookies join the line-up, eager to become the next big star and follow in the footsteps of our previous two GP3 Champions, Esteban Gutiérrez and Valtteri Bottas.
We welcome back seven familiar faces to GP3: Mitch Evans (MW Arden), Antonio Felix Da Costa (Carlin), Aaro Vainio (Lotus GP), Conor Daly (Lotus GP), Tamas Pal Kiss, (Atech), Marlon Stockinger (Status GP) and Matias Laine (MW Arden).
The 2012 GP3 grid consists of three race winners (Evans, Pal Kiss and Felix Da Costa), with the New Zealander and Hungarian claiming victories here in Barcelona in 2011.
This year a new points system is introduced, which is similar to that of Formula One and GP2 Series. There has also been an increase in points gained for pole position and for achieving the fastest race lap, with 4 points on offer for pole position and 2 bonus points for fastest lap for each race. There will be one free practice session of 45 minutes this season before the drivers get down to the serious business of 30 minutes qualifying, ahead of the two action packed races.
Last but not least, for the first time in the Series’ history, female drivers are taking on the GP3 challenge: Vicky Piria (Trident Racing), Carmen Jorda (Ocean Racing Technology) and Alice Powell (Status GP).
All in all, everything is in place in order to make this third season another one to remember.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola commented: “It’s going to be a busy weekend for us in Barcelona, as we have Formula One, GP2 and GP3 racing together for the first time this year. However, this is also a great opportunity for everybody to see how the three championships complement each other, and this was very much the philosophy that we had when designing the tyres for each series, as part of a ladder of talent that can take drivers all the way up to Formula One. The characteristics of the tyres in GP3 are intended to prepare drivers for what they will face in GP2, while the tyres and the regulations in GP2 have some aspects in common with Formula One. The winner of GP2 race one in Barcelona last year was Charles Pic, who is competing in Formula One this year, so that is a good example of the theory working in practice. Barcelona is certainly one of the most demanding tracks of the year that the drivers will face when it comes to managing their tyres, due to the high levels of wear and degradation that we can expect. Both in GP2 and GP3, an intelligent approach to the race will pay dividends.”