The fourth season of the GP3 Series gets underway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain this weekend as the next batch of young drivers strive to prove their credentials in the Formula 1 support series. One youngster will be looking to add their name to a trophy that currently includes Formula 1 drivers Esteban Gutierriez and Valtteri Bottas, while current champion Mitch Evans has made a promising start to his GP2 career. GP3 provides young drivers with the chance not only to hone their skills on the way up to GP2 and Formula 1, but it does so in full viewing of the elite paddock.
For 2013, GP3 has a new car! To the relief of pretty much everyone, the engines will no longer sound like a cross between a tractor and a lawnmower, with the 3.4 litre V6 GP3/13 delivering 400hp, resulting in a top speed of 285km/h. The new Dallara designed chassis will feature a standard ECU, with the aerodynamics facilitated to enable overtaking. Pirelli continue to supply tyres to the series, with a 30 minute practice session being following by 30 minutes of qualifying to decide the grid for the opening race on Saturday afternoon. The series mirrors F1 and GP2’s points scoring system for the top 10 finishers of the opening race, while the top eight drivers will be reversed to decide the grid for Sunday’s race. As with GP2, the first eight racers will receive points for the second race. Pole position for the opening race and fastest lap also comes with bonus points.
GP3 races alongside Formula 1 and GP2 at most European circuits. For 2013, the series will no longer travel to Monaco. Instead, a stand alone round at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit near Valencia will take place. The series finale will not be at Monza, as GP3 heads to Abu Dhabi for the first time in November.
American Conor Daly returns to ART for his third season in GP3, having raced for Hilmer Motorsport in the opening GP2 Series weekend in Malaysia. Daly, who survived a horrifying crash in Monaco last season, will also enter the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May. He’s joined by Argentinian Facu Regalia and reigning British Formula 3 champion Jack Harvey. MW Arden will field Robert Visoiu alongside Red Bull hotshots Carlos Sainz Jr, son of the World Rally legend, and Russian Daniil Kvyat. Formula Renault 3.5 Series race winner Nick Yelloly joins Carlin, alongside Luis Sa Silva and Formula Ford racer Eric Lichtenstein. Swiss team Jenzer Motorsport give rides to compatriots Patric Niederhauser and Alex Fontana, alongside female racer Samin Gomez. Cypriot Tio Ellinas will race for Marussia Manor Racing and he also gets a drive for Marussia in Formula 1’s young driver test in July. He is joined by Dino Zamparelli and Ryan Cullen. Jimmy Eriksson, Adderly Fong and Josh Webster line-up for Status with Melville McKee, Carmen Jorda and Lewis Williamson racing for Bamboo Engineering. Giovanni Venturini and David Fumanelli return for a second crack with Trident, and they are joined by Emanuele Zonzini. New Finnish team Koiranen field 2012 title contender Aaro Vainio, Patrick Kujala and Kevin Korjus.