A quick overview on the GP3 2017 series, last year they introduced a new GP3 specification car. They also use Pirelli rubber and the rear tyres configuration has changed, tyre management will come into play more this year. It is a first this year they have DRS, still needing to be less than a second behind the driver in front. It is not available all the time throughout the race, they have so many amount of times to use it, for Spain they have an allocation of 6 uses.
Jack Aitken took pole for the first GP3 race of 2017. Aitken was very squirmy, lots of rear wheel spin from the get go, Nirei Fukuzimi got the jump who started second, Aitken dropped to second. A very clean first couple of corners, albeit a few drivers ran wide Dorian Boccalaci being the most notable, bit too aggressive out of turn 2, going from attempting to pass Aitken for second but dropped to fourth.
Fukuzimi and Aitken were in a league of their own, sharing fastest laps and pulling away from the field. The introduction of DRS provided some great overtakes, not everyone is a fan of the system we all do know. Alessio Lorandi and George Russell were on fire, using the DRS to good effect. Russell did start fourth but went to as low as eighth on lap one. We were robbed as Aitken came out of turn 5 and a problem for the Brit, mechanical issue slowed him. He crept around to the pits, and retired. Aitken was starting to use his own DRS usage to put the pressure on the race leader.
The TV screens then focused to the Italian drivers in second and third, Leonardo Bulcini of Arden held on to second, albeit Lorandi who finished third was all over the back of his fellow countryman. Bulcini was ecstatic, raising is hand in joy like he had won! Although Fukuzimi was the victor, he won by 7 seconds, took it easy in the last couple of laps as per mentioned due to the unfortunate end of Aitken on lap 16. Fukuzimi is in his second season, staying with ART. The Japanese driver looks strong for the season coming now knowing all the tracks unlike previous years.
Campos team mates of Raoul Hyman and Marcos Siebert were having a right battle for eighth place, as with GP3, finishing eighth seals you pole for race two. Siebert lit his rear wheels out of penultimate corner, lost eighth, giving pole to Hyman.
Arjun Maini started second on the grid after finishing seventh on race one, and at the start he got the jump on Hyman and lead clearly into turn one. Once more there was no severe accidents in the first couple of laps, you’d think being a junior series more accidents, but a very clean weekend took place at Barcelona. Maini set fastest lap early on, the teenager looks up to Sebastian Vettel and pulled away very similiar to the German in the latter stages. Maini is a 2014 runner up for Formula 4, so he has experience in open wheel races.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, Dorian Boccalaci was extremely quick, hot on the heels of the Indian driver, on lap four/five him and Maini were side by side from the pit straight going into turn four but Maini held on. On lap six Boccalaci at turn one he passed Maini using one of his DRS allocations, but out of turn two, Maini managed to re-overtake him
Alessio Lorandi once more like race one managed to control himself and his car to get better speed the later the race goes on. The Italian had lovely outside pass around Hyman at turn one for fourth on lap 9. 5 laps to go Lorandi went up to third, and the place stayed as is. Lorandi only driver to finish on the podium for both races.
Arjun Maini came round to win in Spain, he won by 6 seconds. Maini recently signed a partnership with Haas and with former F1 driver Karun Chandhok supporting him, could see a tasty battle for the remaining events along with race one winner and Honda driver Fukuzimi.
Race one winner Fukuzumi holds the lead going into the next round after his first and sixth race finishes. Mr consistent Lorandi in second, podium in both races this weekend, the only driver to do so, and race two winner Arjun Maini in third. British drivers Jack Aitken, who was unlucky in race one, and George Russell who has a solid weekend will look to build upon the start of the season and preparation for the British Grand Prix in two races time. GP3 has a break, a much shorter schedule than parent series of Formula 2 and Formula 1. We will next be racing in Austria at the Red Bull Ring on 9 July, gives food for thought for all drivers before they turn the wheel next.