Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser set a blistering laptime of 1:33.750 which was an impressive 4.2 seconds faster than the best GP3 lap set at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2012. It was another trouble-free test session in Barcelona with the second generation car as the full grid of 27 drivers fought with the mixed weather conditions. Aaro Vainio was quickest in the afternoon for Koiranen GP.
Melville McKee replaced Lewis Williamson at Bamboo Engineering which was the only change to the line-up for day two. The first hour of the test was frenetic as the drivers fed onto the track eager to make the most of dry running before the expected rain fell. Jenzer Motorsport made it a one-two with Niederhauser and Alex Fontana topping the timesheets early on with drivers unable to improve as the heavens opened.
I have so much fun driving the second generation car, it’s very challenging.
Jack Harvey stopped on track in his ART Grand Prix car with technical gremlins whilst Nick Cassidy (Marussia Manor Racing) clipped the barrier which caused brief red flags. Carmen Jorda (Bamboo Engineering) and Emanuele Zonzini (Trident) spun off into the gravel trap as the rain pounded down which caused two short interruptions at the close of the morning session.
Niederhauser’s quickest time was almost half a second faster than his teammate Fontana with Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing), Cassidy, Giovanni Venturini (Trident), Daniil Kvyat (MW Arden), Harvey, Facu Regalia (ART Grand Prix), Dino Zamparelli (Marussia Manor Racing) and Conor Daly (ART Grand Prix) rounding out the top ten at the chequered flag.
Heavy rain hammered down and the temperature dropped as the afternoon session got underway as the drivers wrestled with the wet conditions. There were a number of red flags in the afternoon session which included Josh Webster, Regalia, Samin Gomez, Zonzini, McKee and Daly who had minor offs as the treacherous weather continued to cause drivers a headache. Daly held top spot in the standings with the Koiranen GP duo of Kevin Korjus and Aaro Vainio second and third as the drivers concentrated on wet weather set-up.
Carlos Sainz Jnr (MW Arden) went into the tyre barrier at turn three which had been problematic for a number of drivers, thus causing significant damage to his car which brought the red flag out. In the final part of the session Vainio shot to P1 with Harvey into P2. Harvey ran off track at the end of the session which meant the session ended under red flag conditions. Therefore Vainio remained at the head of the timings in front of Harvey, Daly, Korjus, Eric Lichtenstein, Regalia, Venturini, Jimmy Eriksson (Status Grand Prix), Nick Yelloly (Carlin) and Zamparelli.
Patric Niederhauser commented: “I have so much fun driving the second generation car, it’s very challenging. The speed differential between the GP3/13 and GP3/10 car is immense and I feel there are still improvements to come within the car set-up as this is only the second test. Driver skill is really tested as you have to adapt your driving style to suit the needs and the power of the machine. Fast corners are much trickier to control. Tyre management is even more important this year and it’s the perfect preparation to learn and progress to GP2 and Formula 1.”
The final official pre-season test takes place at Silverstone on 03-04 April before the first round gets underway in May at Barcelona.