Status Grand Prix drivers Alexander Sims and António Félix da Costa topped the time sheets at a rain-affected Paul Ricard HTTT during the first day of pre-season testing for the 2011 GP3 Series.
The duo both set their times at the end of the morning session when the circuit had dried out after early rain, with returning GP3 driver Ivan Lukashevich making it three Status GP cars in the Top 10 by setting the eighth fastest time. Their morning times remained unbeaten in the afternoon at the French circuit, where persistent rain returned for the duration of the three-hour session.
The result marked a strong start to the season for Gravity Sport Management-backed driver Sims, as he prepares for his first season in GP3. Just 0.08sec separated the Briton from his fellow former F3 Euro Series race winner Félix da Costa, as the Portuguese driver also immediately showed his quality.
The duo expressed themselves happy with the balance of their 280hp Renault-powered Dallara GP3 cars as they settled into their new home at Status GP, which finished second in the drivers’ and teams’ championships in the inaugural GP3 Series in 2010. They were both again in the top 10 of the times in the afternoon as they continued to tune their cars to wet conditions, with Félix da Costa ranked eighth, one place ahead of Sims.
Lukashevich, who raced with Status GP in the 2010 GP3 Series, showed further signs of his development by chalking up the second fastest time of the afternoon session, his 1m25.79s lap set soon after lunch when the rain was at its lightest. Fresh from a race-winning winter campaign in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, the Marussia Motors development driver’s performance showed his intent to move up the grid in the Formula One-support series, which will be run at eight F1 Grands Prix across Europe this year.
Status GP Timing Information
Alexander Sims (GB): Best overall time: 1m21.827s; Position: 1st
António Félix da Costa (P): Best overall time: 1m21.913s, +0.08s; Position: 2nd
Ivan Lukashevich (RUS): Best overall time: 1m.22.931s, +1.10s; Position: 8th