Nico Muller quickest for Jenzer in Estoril
Nico Muller dominated in both post-season test sessions at Circuit Estoril in Portugal today, showing the rest of the field that he means business in his fight to become the next GP3 Series champion.
There was a mixture of old and new faces in the GP3 paddock today, as the teams gathered for the first time since the season finale in Monza just over four weeks ago. As expected it was the seasoned drivers who dominated the majority of the morning session, whilst the rookies got to grips with their new machines in the rising Portuguese heat.
After making the switch to Addax Team for the test, Roberto Merhi spent nearly all of the session sitting pretty at the top of the time sheets until Muller set his quickest time of the day 1:32.581 to take the number one spot with just a few minutes remaining. GP3 podium finisher Miki Monras was quick to get to settle in at his new team Addax and finished the session second whilst ART Grand Prix's James Calado made an impressive debut for the French outfit finishing in third spot - the quickest rookie of the morning.
Temperatures continued to rise during the afternoon session as the newcomers started to find their feet around the 4.182 km track. Manor Racing's Conor Daly, who led for most of the afternoon, Atech CRS GP's Tamas P'al Kiss and Marlon Stockinger, MW Arden's Matias Laine and Carlin's Rupert Svendsen-Cook all found themselves in the top ten before the GP3 old-timers hit the track on new tyres in the dying minutes. Muller, who finished the Series third in the drivers' standings for Jenzer last season, then set his quickest time of the day 1:32.198 to snatch the top spot once again. Tamas P'al Kiss was the quickest rookie of the afternoon.
Despite being dropped down the final pecking order it was an impressive display from the new drivers, and tomorrow looks set to be an even closer scrap.
Five red flags interrupted proceedings during the day: two were caused when newcomer Hugo Valente spun his #27 Tech 1 Racing car, and also spinning was Rupert Svendsen-Cook in his Carlin racer. Manor Racing's Thomas Hylkema and Adrien Tambay stopped out on track.
The test will resume tomorrow at 9:00 am local time.