GP3 Series press release
Swiss driver fastest in first test session for 2012 in Portugal
GP3 Series testing for 2012 opened under beautiful warm sunshine and clear blue skies at the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal today. Nico Müller for Trident Racing came out on top by posting the fast time of both sessions in a fiercely competitive day one of testing in Portugal. The experienced GP3 driver who has yet to sign with a team for 2012, captured the top spot in the standings within the final fifteen minutes of the afternoon session, after it looked likely Mitch Evans would head the pack after the first day. Müller ended the session with the smallest of advantages over the New Zealander, just 0.014s.
It was Evans for MW Arden who commanded the morning session by nearly half a second over Finnish driver Aaro Vainio. The young sophomore only ran 7 laps to complete the quickest time over his rivals. It was a successful morning for MW Arden with Matias Laine also in fourth. Marussia Manor Racing’s driver Tio Ellinas continued his good form from the winter testing in 2011 and was an impressive third fastest.
Returnee GP3 drivers Tamas Pal Kiss, Alexander Sims and Marlon Stockinger held the next positions on the timesheets with fifth, sixth and seventh. Swiss driver and newcomer Mateo Tuscher, at just 15 years old, posted the eighth fastest time for Jenzer Motorsport. Müller finished P9.
The morning session was briefly red flagged when Machado made a visit to the gravel bed after going wide. The Brazilian unfortunately stalled the car but managed to claim the tenth fastest time overall.
First control in the afternoon session went to Lotus GP, whose drivers held the top three positions for the first half of the session. The trio of Vainio, Conor Daly and Daniel Abt were then split by the fast charging Portuguese star Antonio Felix da Costa who rose to the top of the standings in the last hour. That was until the Evans regained control in the latter stages, edging out Da Costa by the smallest of margins.
Müller jumped up the standings in the final fifteen minutes to grab the quickest time of the day, ahead of the Evans, Da Costa, Vainio, Daly and Laine. Cyrpiot driver Ellinas again matched his morning’s form by securing the seventh fastest time ahead of the Hungarian and former GP3 race winner Pal Kiss. David Fumanelli made it three Arden cars in the top ten, showing a very competitive performance. Tuscher on his debut was again inside the top ten with the eighth fastest time.
The afternoon session was red flagged following an incident involving William Buller for Carlin who spun into the gravel after posting the fourth quickest time.
The test will resume tomorrow at 09.00 for the second and final day of testing in Portugal. There will only be a one hour break from lunch between 12.00 and 13.00 with proceedings drawing to a close at 16.00.