The second round of the GP3 Series was held at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, the sole standalone event in this year’s calendar. The weekend schedule was run over two days, with Practice and Qualifying played out on the 4.005km circuit on Saturday and both Race one and Race two on Sunday.
All three drivers set their best times early in the sessions and used the second half of the session for practice race runs, to test the medium compound tyres on the new tarmac circuit.
Carlos finished the session 4th, Daniil 8th and Robert 16th.
The first half of Qualifying, Daniil and Robert topped the time sheets before the session was red flagged caused by Ryan Cullen’s (Marussia) spin into the gravel. The drivers pitted for new tyres and set about to put in a qualifying time. Daniiil built on his lap times, firing a 1:22.536 into second place on the timing sheet.
Carlos’ final flying lap was interrupted by the second red flag of the session, brought out as Adderley Fong spun at turn 11, leaving him in eighth and his team-mate Robert in ninth, as the top 14 drivers covered 0.7seconds.
Race one took place on Sunday morning, again the sun blazing above the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Daniil had a good start from the front row but ran wide at turn 4 conceding his second place to Facu Regalia and third to Kevin Korjus. He finished in fourth picking up 12points.
Carlos started in eighth, with a super start managed to pass three cars in the opening lap to fifth where he crossed the line with 10points in the bag, and secured fastest lap, worthy of further 2points. Robert had a good start, followed by an intense battle with Dino Zamparelli mid-race to obtain eighth place, 4 points and secure pole for Sunday’s afternoon race.
Robert commanded Race two from lights to finish. He had a fantastic get away and drove solidly throughout the race to take his first GP3 win, finishing 7seconds ahead of Aaro Vainio. Carlos starting from fourth, overtook the current Series Leader, Tio Ellinas for third place and was closing in on Aaro Vainio but was unable to pass, even into the last seconds through the finish line.
The local driver finished in third, stepping up onto his first GP3 podium and again, netting fastest lap. Daniil drove a steady race finishing in fifth and picking up 6points.
The team leave the warm climes of Spain in third place in the Teams Championship with 63points.
Robert Visoiu: "It's a great feeling for me and I'm really happy with this. I really wanted a win this year. I really hope I can continue to perform well and pick up more wins and podiums this season. The car was really good for me. I built up a little bit of distance in the first lap so I could control the tyre degredation so I wasn't pushing, I was just saving the tyres.
All race, the tyres felt like they did at the start of the race and I could do the same laptimes. I think the pace was really good and really quick. I was really happy with the set-up of the car. The team have done a really good job for me since the first race."
Daniil Kvyat: “It was a really great step forward for us, we have made a really big improvement with the car and also with the way I drive to manage the tyre situation. It was good all the way through practice and qualifying and I was very happy with second on the grid.
I have to say that I am disappointed with the mistake I made early in the first race which cost us at least P2 I feel but overall we have to be really happy with the way that things have turned around after the problems we had in Barcelona.
Of course we have to keep pushing and improving, everyone else will. We will keep working but we are certainly going in the right direction now and the weekend was a huge boost to my confidence and the confidence within the team who have really done a great job.”
Carlos Sainz: “It was a really tough Qualifying for us. With the first set of tyres we had some brake issues that didn't allow us to set a good benchmark. The car was perfect for the second set of tyres but in the first three laps when the tyres are at their best I didn't manage to do a clean lap due to traffic.
Then finally I got a clear run, was on a lap good enough for P2 and then the red flag came out. When the track was cleared there was just 1 minute 35 seconds of qualifying, a very difficult situation, I was sat in P19 at that point.
The pressure was on and I had only one chance, I managed to put in a decent lap, not a perfect lap but at least it gave us P9. It became P8 when a car ahead was excluded for a technical problem.”
“In Race one, I got off the line well but the straight is narrow and I could hardly pass anyone before the first corner, I had to brake to avoid running into people. I got a good drive through turn 1 though, I think I was P8 to P7 through turn 1 then I did 2 cars in turn 2 on the outside. So then we stayed 5th, I had a bit better pace than P4 but it is really difficult to overtake at Valencia, both in the first and second races
For Race 2 “Again I got a really really good start, I was closing on the guys in front but had to brake early as they closed me in really good. But then I did Ellinas into turn 2 and was 3rd behind Vainio. We stayed 3rd the whole race then in the last three laps I saw that Vainio was struggling a lot with the rear tyres.”
“I had managed to take care of mine and I then pushed the last three laps a lot and managed to catch him. I managed to force him into a couple of mistakes and could go side-by-side with him but not quite get past. With another lap or on another track with at least one overtaking point I think we could have done him.
The team did a really good job from Barcelona to here. We had the test in Budapest and the team has worked really really hard. Barcelona was a bit of a disappointment for all of us but we have turned things around and at least here in Valencia we had one of the fastest cars on the race track.
We had fastest laps and we were fastest at the end of the races so that shows just how we have made a big step forward. We may be lacking a bit of qualifying pace, we could be compromising a bit much on the qualifying pace for the race pace but it is still really good and a fine balance.”