The eagerly anticipated fourth season of the GP3 Series gets underway this weekend in Barcelona at the 4.655 km long Circuit de Catalunya. 2013 will see the continuation of eight rounds on the calendar and yet another fascinating season with the introduction of the second generation car.
The GP3/13 car has produced lap times almost five seconds faster than the GP3/10 in pre-season testing, raising the level of the Series even further. GP3’s first two champions Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas have progressed to Formula 1 showing the full grid of 27 drivers what can be achieved in a short time.
There are 15 rookies joining the class of 2013. Brit’ Jack Harvey joins current Team champions ART Grand Prix, whilst Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat (both Red Bull Junior Team drivers) will try to emulate reigning champion Mitch Evans to title glory with MW Arden.
Status GP field three GP3 debutants with Jimmy Eriksson, Adderly Fong and Josh Webster, with Carlin bringing in two new faces in Luis Sa Silva and Eric Lichtenstein.
Marussia Manor Racing add two Brits’ to their squad with Ryan Cullen and Dino Zamparelli, while Jenzer Motorsport welcome Venezuelan Samin Gomez to their team. Kevin Korjus, Patrick Kujala (Koiranen GP), Melville McKee (Bamboo Engineering) and Emanuele Zonzini (Trident) complete the rookies.
Five previous race winners are in the line-up: Aaro Vainio (Koiranen GP) and Patric Niederhauser (Jenzer Motorsport) Conor Daly (ART Grand Prix), Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) and Lewis Williamson (Bamboo Engineering).
Finnish outfit Koiranen GP are new to the series for 2013, whilst British squad Bamboo Engineering have joined forces with Atech CRS GP.
The Barcelona circuit has an eclectic mix of corners and straights, with an abrasive track surface, one drivers know particularly well from testing. Pirelli have nominated the Hard tyre for Round 1.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola commented: “We’re in for a busy weekend in Barcelona, with some significant changes for the GP3 Series this year in particular, which has a brand new car that develops 400 horsepower. This makes a significant difference to the lap times: during testing at Barcelona earlier this year, the cars were actually lapping more than four seconds a lap quicker than they had been in 2012.
"So we have had a re-think of the GP3 tyres this year, with some brand new compounds, which bring them closer in character to the current GP2 tyres. Barcelona is one of the tracks where this is tested to the utmost, as it is a fast and technical track that asks a lot of the tyres, particularly on the left of the car as all the most demanding corners are right-handers.”