GP3 testing: ART’s Esteban Gutiérrez is fastest in both sessions

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, June 18th, 2010

 
 

Esteban Gutiérrez was driver of the day on the second day of GP3 testing with the ART pilot topping the timesheet in both sessions.

He was one of 30 drivers from 10 teams taking part in the test at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, near Madrid, in advance of next weekend’s race at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

The morning saw dry and sunny conditions with rising temperatures that caused the track to slow rapidly and the drivers to make the most of their early laps.

Gutiérrez was the first to break the 1:26 barrier after posting a time of 1:26.773. Tech 1’s Jean Eric Vergne was second on 1:26.985, followed closely by Status’ Robert Wickens on 1:27.011.

Eight different cars filled the top 10 spots with Jenzer’s Nico Muller taking fourth, ART’s Alexander Rossi fifth and Muller’s team-mate Trummer sixth. RSC Mucke’s Nigel Melker was seventh with Manor’s James Jakes eighth, Addax’ Felipe Guimaraes ninth and series newcomer Roberto Merhi, who is driving for Atech, in 10th place.

Manor’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs was 11th on the timesheet with Carlin’s Dean Smith in 12th and Atech’s Oliver Oakes in 15th. Organisers reported that a total of 1,102 laps were completed during the morning session.

During the slower afternoon session Gutierrez posted a time of 1:28.057, just four thousandths of a second ahead of Wickens. Smith was third on 1:28.147.

Muller was fourth with Oakes providing Atech’s best test result to date in fifth and his team-mate Roberto Mehri sixth.

Trummer was seventh, Rossi eighth, Addax’ Pablo Sanchez Lopez in ninth spot, and Tech 1’s Doru rounded out the top ten. Jakes finished 17th while Quaife-Hobbs was 18th.

The morning’s good conditions lasted until the final 20 minutes of the session when the skies opened for a huge downpour. Only Addax Team were brave enough to take to the track, but soon returned to the pits before they fell foul of the slippery conditions.

Third-placed Smith said of the session: “The test has been going really well for us, although I got scuppered by the rain at the end. We managed to do a lot of testing and figure out which way to go for the next race.

“It’s frustrating when you know you can top the times, but as a driver you need to make the car your own which is what we are working on. I’m going in a simulator next week to learn the Valencia Street Circuit and then hopefully everything will come together and we can get P1.”

Apart from a couple of red flags the session ran smoothly, and all ten teams were able to use the track time to continue fine-tuning their cars and testing new settings ahead of the Valencia Street Circuit race.

The series organisers pointed out that that the teams covered 887 laps in total with few significant car problems, demonstrating what they describe as “impressive reliability.” Today’s running brought the lap total for two days to mre than 4,000.

For full standings from the Valencia test, as well as the latest news on GP3, visit the series website here.

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