New car and new races for GP3’s fourth season

2013 GP3 season preview

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GP3 champions Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez made their F1 debuts this year.

This year 27 drivers are vying to follow in their footsteps – and will do so in new and significantly quicker cars.

Last year’s GP3 championship came to a thrilling climax at Monza and the new series begins this weekend. Jack Leslie (@JackLeslieF1) explains why you should watch it.

The basics

GP3’s place on the Formula One support bill makes it a highly attractive option for aspiring grand prix drivers. Sitting on the rung below GP2, it is a highly competitive series which gives drivers the chance to show what they can do in front of some very influential people.

The fourth year of the category will see the GP3-10 chassis replaced with a new, more powerful and lighter racing machine. Testing has revealed it to be three to two seconds per laps faster than its predecessor.

The races themselves have a predetermined distance that is worked out before each round; they both last the same amount of laps and have a 30 minute limit. Points are awarded to the top ten in race one and top eight in race two with an additional two point reward for the driver with the fastest lap. As in GP2 the starting grid for the second race is based on the finishing order from the first, with the top eight reversed.

2013 drivers and teams

The 2013 GP3 field features a mix of series returnees and rookie racers.

Conor Daly is starting his third year in the category and Tio Ellinas is back for a second season at Marussia Manor. Both will be looking on this season as a crucial opportunity for them to continue their upward progression towards F1.

Daly stood on the top step of the podium with ART (formerly Lotus GP) last year and remains with them in 2013. Ellinas finished eighth in last year’s GP3 season and has a drive in a Formula One car to look forward to later in the year.

Another series returnee, Aaro Vainio, will be hoping to challenge for the title with successful Formula Renault 2.0 team Koiranen GP who are making their GP3 debut.

ART, who fielded Bottas and Gutierrez in their championship-winning years, will also field British Formula Three champion Jack Harvey and European F3 Open racer Facu Regalia.

Red Bull-backed Russian racer Daniil Kvyat is another name to watch as he makes his GP3 debut for MW Arden, who Mitch Evans won the title for last year. Kvyat made his F3 debut last weekend at Hockenheim and scored a podium finish.

Samin Gomez and Carmen Jorda (who also raced last year) are the series’ female contingent, racing for Jenzer and new team Bamboo respectively. Patric Niederhauser returns to line up alongside Gomez at Jenzer, with David Fumanelli also competing in GP3 again with the Trident team.

Finally there are two drivers seeking to revive their careers after disappointing Formula Renault 3.5 campaigns in 2012. Kevin Korjus has been quick in testing for Koiranen GP. Lewis Williamson, who was dropped from Red Bull’s young driver programme after just five races last year, is a late signing at Bamboo.

New cars

The key specifications of the new GP3/13 car are better in every respect than the old machines, with its distinctive and unappealing engine note.

The new engine puts out 400bhp – a major step up from the 280bhp available last year – and sits in a chassis which at 630kg is 20kg lighter than the one it replaces. It also produces less drag and reaches as a top speed of 290kph (180mph), over 30kph higher than last year.

Its aerodynamics have been designed to improve overtaking opportunities. The new car also gives teams a wider range of set-up possibilities on components such as the suspension. The series continues to use Pirelli tyres with a range of three different compounds on offer during the season.

During its first run at pre-season testing in Portugal those who had experienced its predecessor reported the new car was tricky to master. That should provide the 2013 grid with a fascinating new challenge.

The calendar

Unlike last year, not every round will appear as an F1 support race. A standalone event at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo road circuit will be held in June.

Nor will the series return to Monaco, where it raced for the first time last year and saw a terrifying crash involving Conor Daly and Dmitry Suranovich.

As usual every round of the championship will be a double-header. It begins at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend and will remain in Spain for the Valencia round. It then follows F1 to Silverstone, the Nurburgring, Hungaroring, Spa Francorchamps and Monza.

New for this season will be the final round of the season at the Yas Marina circuit in early November. That means there is an eight-week wait between the penultimate and final race weekends.

Over to you

Will you be watching the GP3 series this year? Who’s your tip for the title? Have your say in the comments.

Why you should watch…

Images © GP3/LAT

59 comments on “New car and new races for GP3’s fourth season”

  1. the quickest time posted at the Silverstone test matched the fastest lap from last years GP2 race there… Pretty interesting

    1. Not as surprising when you consider that the ‘new’ car is a GP2 chassis with different aerodynamics.

  2. “Koiranen” appears three times in this article with three different spellings: Koiranen, Koiranan and Koirainen :)

    1. Also, while we’re at small corrections, this:

      Testing has revealed it to be three and to seconds per laps faster than its predecessor.

      …should probably read more like:

      Testing has revealed it to be between two and three seconds faster per lap than its predecessor

      1. Sorry about that, hope you enjoy the article. The GP3 grid and new car is really setting us up for a fantastic season

        1. @jackleslief1 – I’ll say this for your writing, at least it got me to go to youtube and watch race highlights from Monza 2012 so I could hear just how bad the engines sounded! lol… Hope that 2013 is a great year for the series!

        2. @jackleslief1 oh no need to apologise, I make more than my fair share of typos! Great article indeed!

        3. @jackleslief1

          No word on my boy Luis Sá Silva :(

          1. The Angola guy? He is rubbish as it was in previous years.

  3. Of course I’ll be watching GP3 this year. There’s a bunch of talented guys in the series, maybe not as many as FR3.5 or European F3, but still..pretty good.
    Last year’s 4th-place finisher Aaro Vainio is the highest-ranked driver returning to the series, albeit with a new team(having switched to newbies Koiranen from ART). He had started 2012 well, but faded as the season went on, which cost him his All Road backing. Koiranen is not a new name, having been very successful in FR2.0, but I’m not sure whether they’ll be able to take the fight to ART and Arden. Another driver in Koiranen, Kevin Korjus, was one of the hottest prospects in mid-2011. He had a forgettable campaign in FR3.5 in 2012, lost his place in the Lotus Junior Team and was forced to step down to GP3.
    Another driver forced to take the step down was Nick Yelloly, who will be with Carlin in 2013. Unlike Korjus, Yelloly had a strong FR3.5 campaign last year and might be one of the outsiders for the 2013 campaign.
    The next-highest placed driver of 2012(behind Vainio) coming back to the series is Conor Daly who was 6th. Unlike Vainio, he will stay with ART, a certified top team, and has already raced this season in GP2. He should be one of the title favourites.
    Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser was a strong 7th last year. Although his team, Jenzer aren’t really a top team, it’d be folly to discount his title races. He has also raced this year, in the European Le Mans, picking up a 2nd place at the Silverstone 3 hours.
    Tio Ellinas had an agonising wait to be confirmed, but his pace is unquestionable. If Manor can up their game from last year, expect Ellinas to be a frontrunner for sure.
    Then there are the Red Bull boys at Christian Horner’s Arden team. This is probably Carlos Sainz Jr’s last chance, after flattering to deceive in British F3 and F3 Euroseries last year. Daniil Kvyat has less pressure on him, capping off a strong showing in FR2.0 last year. Both these guys, despite being GP3 rookies, are certainly possible title challengers.
    Unfortunately, the strong upper end of the grid is offset by a weak lower end. Ryan Cullen, Luis Sa Silva, Adderly Fong and of course, Carmen Jorda will being about the rear of the field, barring a miracle.

    1. Also think lewis williamson will be in the title hunt with the arden team and daly

      1. Williamson? Really? He struggled horrendously when he stepped up to Formula Renault, and now he’s with Bamboo Engineering, the ex-Ocean Racing Technology outfit, and they were similarly horrible last season.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys I agree. Williamson is horribly overrated, Red Bull did well in sacking him in the middle of last year’s poor(to say the least) season in FR3.5.

          Bamboo Engineering, the ex-Ocean Racing Technology outfit

          I think Bamboo were Atech CRS last year. Ocean’s entry has gone to pot.

          1. Well, even if the team was Atech CRS, they were still pretty hopeless.

          2. ‘horribly overrated’ i strongly disagree with that. I agree he had a very very poor ‘season’ in wsr but as tyler pointed out the feature by autosport shows that red bull may just have let 1 slip through their talent net. The feature says his team arden caterham who were in their first season of wsr were severely struggling with set up issues which was also shown by his team mate alexander rossi who was a championship favorite at the start of the year after he finished 3rd in 2011 but he was also getting no where near the results he expected. His talent was shown in the wet at spa in his last race where he qualified 4th and was unlucky in the race with a safety car. Also in his debut season of gp3 a lot of people forget he was the highest placed rookie in arguably the toughest ever gp3 field and also beat his team mate who was a certain mitch evans…I wonder if he had stayed in gp3 for another season he would have been the 2012 season champ.

          3. Seb Vettel Then please enlighten me on how AFDC was able to get results from the word go. If anything, it should have been more difficult for him, making the GP3 to FR3.5 transition mid-season, and then combining a double campaign. And I stand by what I have said, Williamson is overrated. In the 2011 GP3 season, he was almost beaten by 16-year-old teammate Mitch Evans, who had never seen European tracks before.

        2. @prisoner-monkeys @wsrgo for a contrary view on why Williamson’s results, in his limited time in WSR 3.5 didn’t reflect his potential, have a read of this Autosport piece from last year (subscription required) –

          1. @tdog – If Williamson is the kind of driver who needs a few races to get used to machinery, then he probably wouldn’t be going any further than GP3. Just look at the man who replaced him in Fomula Renault: Antonio Felix da Costa was competitive from the moment he got into the car.

          2. @tdog I don’t have a subscription. Could it be possible for you to give an overview of what exactly is written there? Thanks..

          3. @prisoner-monkeys +1 again.
            @tdog There are excuses, damn excuses, and Autosport trying to justify poor performance of Brits.

          4. @wsrgo the article, written at the time of his axing pointed out that Williamson had been placed in a team brand new to FR 3.5 which had a very difficult pre-season. His teammate Rossi, who was good enough to finish 3rd in 2011, was given more leeway by Caterham at the new team. And at his last race at Spa, Williamson had the bad luck of the pit closing seconds before he was due to have his stop, his team instructed him to stay out and in response he set the second fastest lap of the race ( he crossed the line first but with the time penalty was pushed well down the order). The point of the article was to suggest that he had been placed in a team which struggled in the early part of the season and was prematurely axed, 5 races in, just as he was showing some promise.

            @prisoner-monkeys I almost said in my original comment that Red Bull were no doubt happy with his replacement!

            I wasn’t suggesting that the article was gospel, merely that there were grounds for looking past Williamson’s raw results (which on paper were terrible) and that he perhaps shouldn’t be dismissed as lacking in any talent based on 5 poor FR 3.5 races.

        3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          7th May 2013, 15:11

          @prisoner-monkeys +1 Williamson doesn’t stand a chance of the title, and looked remarkably normal when he returned to GP3 last year. Inevitably it’ll be between Daly, Neiderhauser and maybe Ellinas for the title, unless a new wiz-kid rocks up.

          1. In pre season testing he has been right on the pace also so i dont see why he cant challenge for victories instanly

          2. Seb Vettel He’s only tested at Estoril and Bamboo are a new team. Testing mileage(even in GP3) counts for more than testing pace. He doesn’t stand a chance.

  4. Great article @jackleslief1 – I just wish F1 would follow GP3’s lead in introducing new rules which made the cars faster, not slower!

    1. hear, hear, I’m tired of ever-increasing weight limits in F1. I doubt whether an F1 car is faster than an Indycar in race trim.

      1. In early 2014 it might not be faster!

        1. They’re said to be around 4-5 seconds per lap slower.

      2. @adrianmorse the most annoying part is that it is completely unecessary: all the teams build their cars to much lower weights than the threshold, which is then all just made up with ballast. It’s completely unecessary and only serves to make the cars slower than they need to be! As long as the weight limit is high enough to allow for safe construction of the survival cell then it could be lowered down to even about 500kg I think.

      3. Totally agree that F1 cars should be getting faster… but I think you’ll find that F1 cars are much, much quicker than Indycars in any trim.

        F1 cars have ~750bhp (without KERS) in a 642kg chassis (incl driver), whereas Indycars run ~550-700bhp (altered via boost controller for oval vs. road course racing if I’m not mistaken) in a 710kg chassis (incl driver). They certainly looks close, especially when you consider that the turbo Indycar motors have a much broader powerband, but the aerodynamics and braking systems of an F1 car are so much more advanced that you really cannot compare them fairly. F1 cars rarely race on the same circuits as current Indycars, but based on past examples I would bet the F1 car would be around 5 seconds per lap faster on a typical ~5km road course.

        Still, F1 cars could (and should!) be much faster :-)

  5. Good article overall…but I have one problem. Why is Patric Niederhauser not being considered as a title favourite? He actually finished ahead of Ellinas last year.

    1. I guess that could be because of doubting his team is up to it?

      1. @bascb Jenzer did much better than Manor last year, took two wins and five podiums. Manor took only one win and two podiums. So, it doesn’t make much sense..

        1. Hm, very good point @wsrgo!

  6. Why did they upgrade the cars so much? they are 120 hp more powerful and 20 kg lighter. Isn’t that a bit too much?

    400 hp for a series that’s teh 3rd step below F1 sounds like a hell of a lot. Or maybe they are making room for a possible GP4 series? a new rival to F4 perhaps?

    1. @fer-no65 – The organisers wanted the cars to be closer to the GP2 Series cars to ease the transition from GP3 to GP2. They noticed that drivers are having to commit to two-year programmes in GP2, which means that it istaking lingers d longer to reach Formula 1. Even then, a lot of drivers who succeed in GP3 are struggling once they get to GP2.

    2. From what GT_Racer commented above, it seems its more to do with basing the car off the current GP2 cars. That means it makes sense to run the same engine, be it a toned down version.

      Lets hope it also makes BOTH series less costly, because that is the reason why great talents have picked WRS 3.5 over GP2 lately

  7. F1 = 640kg with ~750bhp
    GP2 =688kg with 612bhp
    GP3 = 630kg with 400bhp
    Inycar = 710kg with ~600-650bhp

    1. @fisha695 I find F1’s statistic depressingly low. I think the minimum weight limit should be significantly reduced to around 550kg because the teams build them to a significantly lower weight than the 642 anyway!

      I’d happily trade that for a reduced amount of aerodynamics.

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    6th May 2013, 17:13

    I watched it last year, I’ll watch it this year, but this series never was the highlight of my weekend. Its failings are difficult to assign, but there is just a hint of “unsexiness” about it, although this probably will be fixed by a new “GP2ish” car and a naturally-aspirated engine. It always seemed to me a series that was tailored for its position in the weekend – a bit of “light” racing before the “serious guys” got out on track; a “soft start” to Grand Prix Sunday if you like. I know Bottas and Gutierrez are now in F1, with Mitch Evans seemingly fit to follow if he maintains his impressive form, but all but the headline talents seemed mired into utter bewilderment by the automotive significance of their surroundings that they seem merely happy to keep the car pointing in the right direction. This is also the case this year in FR3.5, with da Costa, Vandoorne, Magnussen and Pic all pushing the limits of their cars, and the rest just “pleased to be there”. However I shall contradict myself now in saying that GP3 will offer motorsport something it desperately needs in 2013: unpredictability. Vettel is running away with it in F1, Leimer is there in GP2, da Costa is on a whole new level in FR3.5, as is Ogier in WRC and Shedden in BTCC, and as for Audi in WEC; well, they don’t need to break into a sweat do they? But GP3? I have no idea who will win, which is a good thing, a good thing that’ll ensure my viewing this year. Let’s just hope those engines sound more like those of a racing car, and less like an attempt not to aggravate the morning hangovers of Grand Prix goers.

    1. @william-brierty

      Leimer is there in GP2

      Leimer the out and out championship favourite? Really? You’ve got Coletti, Nasr, Calado, Bird….all of them can easily win the title.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        6th May 2013, 19:02

        Leimer was on pole by a second in Bahrain, and started lapping a second faster than anyone else in Malaysia to maximize the under cut. In a one-make series, that just doesn’t happen. This year there is no one on the same page as Leimer in terms of pace, and its not as if he’s killing the tyres either. It is utterly delusional to think that anyone can come close to Leimer this year.

        1. @william-brierty In GP2, pace doesn’t really matter all that much, especially when sprint races form 50 percent of the weekend. Leimer will continue to be a force to reckon with in qualifying and in the feature races..but his utter inability to do well in the Sprint races will kill his chances. Coletti and Nasr have been less quick, but their consistency will make them big threats.
          And you can’t discount Calado, even though he had a poor weekend in Bahrain. ART are a top team and I wouldn’t be betting against them from doing better at Catalunya. Bird could be a factor too, with his experience.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            7th May 2013, 14:34

            @wsrgo – Well, you make valid points, but the extra 10 points on offer during the feature races actually make in 62.5% of the weekend if you want to be anal. If Leimer is regularly bringing home the feature race win, he’ll be well on the way to the title, regardless of his sprint results. Just look at Valsecchi, he practically made his title challenge solely in Bahrain! Granted, he was up against a staggeringly untalented field, but this year’s is hardly star-studded. From where I’m sitting, the massively talented Calado is Leimer’s only threat, especially with Calado’s overtaking finesse and knack for the tyres. Bird seems a bit too track specific, so whilst he’ll go well and probably win in Barcelona and Monaco, I doubt he’ll be there all season long, although you argue that Valsecchi was track specific too. Putting Calado and Bird to one side, I still vehemently feel that Leimer is largely unchallenged this year, because on top of his unbelievable raw pace, he has a great feel for the tyres too.

    2. da Costa is on a whole new level in FR3.5

      AFdC is currently in fourth place, 32 points behind series leader Magnussen. There’s plenty of uncertainty in this year’s FR 3.5 season, and no guarantee that the Portugese driver will win the title. He’s a super talent, but he’s not the only one.

      1. @tdog I’m kind of inclined to agree here: he didn’t look particularly impressive last week but that may be a short-term thing. It did highlight the fact he’s not invincible though – I thought he’d walk the championship this year, but Magnussen is keeping him more than honest so far!

      2. Thanks for the post @tdog, I had wanted to point that out too. It certainly seems far from clear cut for one driver in the series.

      3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        7th May 2013, 10:53

        @tdog @vettel1 @bascb

        I think all of you are ignoring the fundamental dynamic of a single-make series. Pace is 9/10ths of the title, and da Costa has much more pace, in race trim, than anyone else. There was a point during the first round when he started lapping over a second a lap faster than anyone else, which is scarcely believable in a series with uninflential tyres and minimal fluctuations in setups. By pointing out his 32 point deficit, you are simply pointing out the magnitude of his bad luck, however Magnussen is a difficult one. He has seemed to have developed as a driver, and I think he has, but he could never have hoped of having the kind of race pace of da Costa, so whilst da Costa started to catch Vandoorne at over a second a lap, Magnussen only started to make up ground when Vandoorne’s vibrations worsened. Also, at Motorland Aragon, he went completely unchallenged in the first race, after the only talents capable of catching him found themselves mired down the field. Magnussen will challenge da Costa, and I expect to see him on pole position a lot, but if da Costa managed to outscore Magnussen last year, i.e. after only competing in the second half of the season, he will have no problems this year. Well done Antonio Felix da Costa, you are the 2013 World Series by Renault champion; fancy a Toro Rosso seat?

        1. Seriously @william-brierty I can see you are a big fan of da Costa, but the races so far really do not show any indication of a one man show this year.

          I see no reason why Magnussen can not have upped his game. And don’t forget its a whole different world to go into the season feeling you “have to” win it, instead as a wildcard like da Costa was last year. Vandoorne is also strong enough so far to make it interesting too.
          And apart from that – sheer pace is never enough to win a championship. As @wsrgo mentions above, Leimer in GP2 can only stay on top if he is not just fast enough to get pole and win, but also able to consistently race through the field in the sprint races.
          Its the same for Da Costa – if he finds himself mired in the field too often he is not going to win the championship. I am certainly not saying he won’t win and I would say that he was the great favorite to win this year all winter. But its not going to be a walk in the park.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            7th May 2013, 15:02

            @bascb – If you had properly read my comment you’d have noted that I said that I did think Magnussen had made a big step over the winter, but equally I highly doubt whether I’ll be enough to beat da Costa…unless he’s got slower over the winter. As for Vandoorne, I’ve seen nothing special. OK, he became the first ever rookie to win his first race in FR3.5, but do you think he’d have won if da Costa hadn’t have got that puncture? No. Do you think he’d have got pole for that race in standard conditions? No. We saw the real Vandoorne in Motorland Aragon, and as far as I’m concerned he won’t be a real factor in this year’s championship. I’m sure the championship will become a tussle between da Costa and Magnussen, but if da Costa doesn’t come out on top I very willing to buy a pink ball gown, and wear it to our weekly pub quiz, whilst telling all my friends that I am a fully devoted member of the Labour Party. I agree, with his current points deficit I don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park, but it is not exactly an insurmountable gap, especially with da Costa’s pace.

            Now after several hundred words spread over several disgruntled comments, you’d rightly expect me to be a big da Costa fan, but no. He presents a paradox to my logical way of thinking, because how can a man that it so fast in the race, be such an unspectacular qualifier? I had the same problem with Perez; he made watching GP2 in 2010 a nightmare.

          2. @william-brierty, I think its better to close the discussion for us here. It seems that while we agree largely about several drivers being at times faster, able to rise to the top when the opportunity presents itself and / or are currently clearly ahead, you still maintain that they have done nothing special, as opposed to Da Costa who did the same as they did. he was great last year, and he clearly is very fast and talented, but I really see it far less clear that he will win this year.

          3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            8th May 2013, 8:53

            @bascb – I am desperate to disagree with the comment before me, but I too will play pacifist in saying, “let’s just agree to disagree.”

  9. Nice article @jackleslief1! I’ve never really cared too much about the feeder series since they are not televised where I live. Luckily that is less of a constraint nowadays, so I think I’ll check it out this weekend. F1Fanatic introduced me to IndyCar at the end of 2011 which I now enjoy quite a lot :)

  10. I’m following Jack Harvey as he is a local boy for me. I don’t know him well personally but have met him at a friends house. He seems like a good lad and is really focused on his career

  11. I agree that this could be the crucial year for Conor Daly in terms of his F1 aspirations. I have no idea what his funding situation is, but one would think that he really needs to shine in his 3rd year of GP3 to either get a good seat in GP2 next year, or perhaps a reserve seat in F1. That said, as an up and coming American, maybe he would have a shot at a decent ride in Indy Car next year, but I’m sure that his ultimate goal is F1. I have high hopes for him, but I fear that F1 might not be in the cards for young Daly. Hope he proves me wrong!

    1. I think he’s already mentioned several times (on P. Windsors on-line show) that he is not going to go for IndyCars but wants to stay focused on F1.

  12. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    6th May 2013, 23:26

    Eight weeks between penultimate and finale! imahine that for F1. It would get me out of my nerves

    1. Wasn’t that the case with GP2 as well a year or 2 back? They were also running in Monza, maybe Valencia as well and then had to wait until the finale in AbuDhabi.

  13. Any chance at all that GP3 makes a trip over the pond to Austin, Texas for a round during the USGP? It sure would be nice to see these young drivers perform here.

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