After two tame races yesterday, GP2 and GP3 needed some added spice today. GP3’s came in the form of a wet race, and GP2’s was in a race with mixed conditions where one strategy proved better – though it was a close thing.
Nigel Melker was given pole for this morning’s earlier-than-usual GP3 race after Sims was excluded from the feature race for technical infringements. It was a wet track and raining lightly; GP3 has been afflicted by wet races this season. Immediately there were spins, and Williamson was taken off in an ambulance though it didn’t appear to be serious. Evans also registered another DNF.
There were spins all over the place, with cars regularly having to cut the chicane. Those who did manage to avoid spinning managed to get good finishes, and particularly Maxim Zimin registering his best-ever finish of 9th.
After a safety car towards the end of the race, Rio Haryanto managed to overtake a struggling Melker, as did the ART cars of Valtteri Bottas and James Calado – Calado in particular impressing as he had started 25th on the grid. Bottas leads the championship with 40 points, but just 12 points behind is seventh place: Antonio Felix da Costa has 28 points, equal with Mitch Evans in 6th. This is still anyone’s to call with two rounds left.
At the start it wasn’t raining but the track was damp. A few drivers started on slicks, including Coletti, Gutierrez and Luca Filippi. Filippi was the strangest choice, as he was starting from near the front of the grid. And immediately he slid down to the back of the field. He ended up having to retire from the race.
Wets seemed the way to go until the track began to dry, and as drivers started to pit for slicks the safety car came out as Max Chilton’s stricken Carlin car needed moving off the track. Coletti, not needing to pit, found himself at the front, and once the safety car came in he was battling against Romain Grosjean.
The DAMS and Trident cars scrapped until the rain began to fall again. Some teams pitted, but Charles Pic stayed out as a second safety car period began. This was not the way to go, with Stefano Coletti, Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez all up at the front on wet tyres. They soon got past Pic, and Gutierrez hounded a more-cautious Grosjean as Coletti zoomed into the lead. The Monagesque driver won, and as they rounded the final corner Grosjean went wide and Gutierrez took second by 0.2s.