Status GP drivers take first GP3 laps in Turkish heat
Status Grand Prix's three drivers took to the track for the first GP3 Series practice session at Istanbul Park this afternoon in searing heat, and all emerged knowing that more speed needs to be found from their cars before qualifying tomorrow morning.
The new Formula One support-race series is ultra-competitive, and although two of the team's drivers, Daniel Morad and Robert Wickens, were inside the Top 10 during the session, their final lap times were 1.0sec off the fastest which left them ranked 17th and 15th respectively in the 30-car field.
A lack of straight-line speed was quickly identified as the problem. "The car felt good and we had a really good balance," said GMH Motorsport driver Morad. "But we were losing time on the straights - other cars were pulling away even when were in their slipstream."
The same issue was encountered by championship leader Wickens, but the cars can be run with lower downforce levels in qualifying to improve speed on the straights and get them towards the front of the grid for Saturday's afternoon's feature race.
Ivan Lukashevich, the Marussia Motors development driver, was also hampered by an engine problem which left him substantially down on power. His final lap time was unrepresentative, but he still completed 11 laps to get familiarised with the 5.3km circuit.
"It was a disappointing day, but ultimately we know exactly what we have to do," said team manager Simon Cayzer. "Certainly there was nothing Ivan could do about his engine, and we also now know the starting set-up wasn't right for all the cars. But we're not scratching our heads - we'll be strong again tomorrow."
The Drivers' View
Daniel Morad (LIB): (Best practice time: 1m49.04s; Pos: 17th).
"Robert and I were closely matched so we know there was a basic problem with the set-up, but we will modify the downforce levels overnight. It should be a quick fix and we'll be right on the pace tomorrow."
Ivan Lukashevich (RUS): (Best practice time: 1m53.22s; Pos: 29th).
"There was nothing I could do about the engine, but I like this circuit, it's good for my driving style. My first real competitive driving will be tomorrow, but I'm still positive."
Robert Wickens (CAN): (Best practice time: 1m48.97s; Pos: 15th).
"It's a disappointing day but on the positive side we know exactly where we went wrong and we can make it better."
-source: status gp