Alexander Sims tops day one of GP3 Series 2011 pre-season testing
Status Grand Prix's rookie Alexander Sims was the fastest man out on track today, after setting the best time of 1:21.827 during the morning session at Circuit Paul Ricard on a rain-affected first day.
After nearly five months the GP3 Series teams were back on track today for the first of three pre-season tests. The teams were greeted with a wet track and low temperatures at Circuit Paul Ricard giving many of the thirty young drivers their first taste of Pirell's wet weather tyres.
It was a slow start to the morning session. MW Arden was the first team to hit the 3D configuration track, with newcomer Lewis Williamson setting the initial benchmark time for the rest of the field. The British driver was eventually toppled from the top of the time sheets by Status Grand Prix's Alexander Sims after the first hour was complete. The track slowly started to dry in the latter part of the session and the times began to drop - Williamson, Sims, rookies Valtteri Bottas and Gabby Chaves, Miki Monras, Ivan Lukashevich, Simon Trummer and Vittorio Ghirelli all took their turns at the top before a red flag halted proceedings.
When the lights changed to green the drivers had just five minutes left on the clock for one final shootout. With some of the field out on slicks, and the track still drying it was impossible to predict who would finish the session on top. It looked like Chaves would be the driver to triumph, but in the dying seconds new Status signees Sims and Felix Da Costa took the honours with Sims setting the quickest laptime of 1:21.827.
When the lights turned green in the afternoon session the cars were quick to take to the track whilst the rain held off, but just a few minutes in and the heavens opened. All the cars out on track ducked back into the pits leaving rookie James Calado at the top of the time sheet for Lotus ART with a laptime of 1:24.627. For the remainder of the session conditions struggled to improve with the downpour only easing for the final thirty minutes. It was a tough afternoon for the drivers, and there were a number of red flags caused by casualties of the rain. Marussia Manor Racing's Rio Haryanto managed to set the quickest wet time of the day with a laptime of 1:35.164, but Calado's time went unbeaten, and the field were left eager to start again tomorrow - hopefully under blue skies.
The test will continue tomorrow at 09:00 am local time.