Four British drivers will be lining up to race in the first ever GP3 event, due to be held as part of the upcoming Grand Prix weekend in Barcelona.
They include James Jakes and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, both driving with Yorkshire-based Manor Racing, where they will partner Indonesia’s Rio Haryanto.
The most successful member of the trio will be in line for a Formula One test with the team’s partner Virgin F1 after it was announced earlier this year that the Manor GP3 squad would contribute to its driver development programme.
So for Quaife-Hobbs, who is also running in F3 Euro Series having graduated from Formula Renault, and Jakes, who put in some convincing performances in GP2 Asia over the past two years, there really is everything to play for this season.
Elsewhere on the grid, the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver award-winner Dean Smith will be driving as part of the three-strong Carlin squad while Oliver Oakes will line up for Atech Grand Prix.
So, what do you need to know about the weekend? Well, all GP3 teams use the same chassis, engine and tyre suppliers, as you might expect.
There are 10 squads running three cars apiece and, as well as more well-known names like Carlin, Manor and ART Grand Prix, keep an eye on Status GP who took A1 Team Ireland to the A1GP championship in 2009.
A couple of Formula One names to watch out for are Mark Webber, managing the MW Arden squad alongside Christian Horner in a bid to promote up-and-coming Australian drivers, and RSC Mucke Motorsport, where the RSC stands for one Ralf Schumacher, now a team co-principal.
The form book is still largely unwritten but recent test sessions gave us a few clues about what to expect. It would be a foolish punter who didn’t consider backing either ART or Carlin to do well, and the former’s Esteban Gutièrrez should certainly be a name to watch.
The action starts on Friday with free practice at 4.50pm local time at the Circuit de Catalunya. Both of the weekends races will be 16 laps and 30 minutes long, and each will cover a total distance of 74.354 km.
Keep up with GP3 all weekend on its official website here.