The inaugural GP3 Series season came to a close in Monza, but the last podium ceremony of the year after Race 2 in Monza was actually not the last one exactly for the paddock.
With the chequered flag dropped on a first successful and thrilling season came the time to celebrate and reminisce what a fabulous eight rounds it's been.
Last night, all GP3 Series actors were invited to attend the official Prize Giving ceremony which was held at an indoor karting near Monza. Odd you say? Not really if you know that we had decided to add a little fun element called the "2010 GP3 Series Go-Kart Challenge -- the race that really counts!" to the traditional ceremony. For this exclusive race, each GP3 team submitted three members to enter the competition, with official GP3 drivers managing the team, not driving. And you would think that for people who work every day in a racing environment this would be boring, but on the contrary: teams were extra serious about it, with Carlin even going to the track the previous Wednesday and Status GP having a qualifying race the week before to select their best drivers. Our official GP3 drivers were also very committed to their part: from an over-zealous Josef Newgarden who was caught pushing his driver's kart at the driver's change, to an energetic Mirko Bortolotti encouraging his driver with every passing lap, they all worked hard to find the best strategy and the best words to motivate their team.
The rules were simple: ten minutes practice, ten minutes qualifying (an added five minute shoot out happened after race control had a small technical issue!), Carlin -- untouchable -- took pole. And then, they stormed to victory in the thirty-minute race during which each driver had to race at least seven minutes. But it was Tech 1's strategy that impressed the most: Simon Abadie took the last and longest stint and blew past most of the field to move up to P2 ahead of Status Grand Prix in the dying minutes. Had Daniel Morad dressed up like a Grid Girl as he promised earlier, perhaps his team's strength and focus would have been better and they could have kept Abadie behind... or maybe not!
Following that true hero's race, the celebration continued with the Prize Giving ceremony, Champions Esteban Gutierrez and ART Grand Prix receiving their trophies after vice champions Robert Wickens and Status GP and third placed Nico Muller and Jenzer motorsport. But these results had been known before. So the surprise came with The Dallara Awards. Three of them were voted by the GP3 paddock from a list of nominees, making the result even more special.
Most outgoing driver
Nominees: Daniel Morad, Nico Muller, Josef Newgarden, Stefano Coletti
Winner: Daniel Morad
Best driving style
Nominees: Esteban Gutierrez, Robert Wickens, Nico Muller, Alexander Rossi
Winner: Esteban Gutierrez
Best win (Monza not included)
Nominees: Pal Varhaug (Barcelona Race 1), Esteban Gutierrez (Istanbul Race 1), Robert Wickens (Spa Race 1) and Adrien Tambay (Spa Race 2)
Winner: Adrien Tambay
Two more Dallara Awards were awarded without votes for Stewards best friend - the driver with the most penalties this season, and Best behaved driver, the driver with the least penalties.
Steward's best friend
Winner: Doru Sechelariu
Best behaved driver:
And with one last picture of all the evening's winners, it was then official: the sun has set on the 2010 season. It was a great one, but now all are looking ahead, starting with two three-day tests on 13-15th October in Estoril and 20-22 October in Jerez.