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Category: GP3

Lotus F1 Junior TeamLotus F1 Team is proud to announce its roster of drivers for the newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team. The seven drivers announced today will be supported by the team in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.

The seven drivers will contest within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team;
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”

The 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team
Marco Sørensen, 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Marlon Stockinger, 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Alex Fontana, 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
Oscar Tunjo,17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
Esteban Ocon, 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
Alexander Albon, 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
Dorian Boccolacci, 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse

Q&As with the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team Drivers

Marco Sørensen – Denmark – World Series by Renault

How did you come to be involved with the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme?
At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it’s great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.

What are your targets for this season in World Series by Renault?
I had some bad luck last year where mechanical issues ended my race whilst in the lead which meant P5 in the championship when it could have been more. At the end, it all comes down to results; if you don’t perform then you won’t progress, so I’m hoping for a bit more good fortune this year and am looking forward to taking on a new challenge with the Lotus F1 Junior Team.

Marlon Stockinger – Philippines – World Series by Renault

How significant is joining the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme to your career?
It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.

It’s a big year for you making the step up to World Series by Renault; what are your thoughts heading into the season?
Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses.

Alex Fontana – Switzerland – GP3 Series

Being part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team must be a big boost to your ambitions?
Definitely! I haven’t been part of a management programme before and it’s always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it’s great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.

This will be your first full year in the GP3 Series; what are you looking for from your debut season?
I competed in a couple of races last year alongside the FIA Formula 2 championship and managed to take P4 in Spa, so I have had a good introduction to the championship already. This year the cars have changed slightly and will have a bit more power so it’s not going to be an easy transition, but my aim is to prove my ability over the course of the season and hopefully move on to the GP2 Series or World Series by Renault next year. If you want to get into Formula 1 – which is the ultimate target for any young driver in single-seater categories – then these are the ideal stepping stones to the top level.

Oscar Tunjo – Colombia – Formula Renault 2.0

What does being a member of Lotus F1 Junior Team mean to you?
It’s a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I’ve been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.

You’re competing in Formula Renault 2.0 for the third year in 2013; what’s the aim for the season ahead?
I had a solid start in 2011 but 2012 was a tough year for me, so now I’m even more determined to come back and push for the championship. I feel like I have all the elements in place to make a strong challenge, so my goal is to be consistently at the front of the pack in every session; taking podiums and hopefully as many wins as possible along the way. My motivation is higher than ever to perform as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme.

Esteban Ocon – France – Formula Renault 2.0

How does it feel to be part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team?
I’m familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it’s great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I’m trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it’s important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.

You’ll be taking on the Formula Renault 2.0 series for the second season in 2013; with your debut done and dusted, what would you be happy with this year?
Winning the championship has to be the goal; even if I can’t win every race, I want to be one of the drivers at the front all the way through the season. Last year I learned that consistency is the key, so my aim is to be up there fighting from start to finish.

Dorian Boccolacci – France – KF2 Karting

You’ve been coming to Enstone since the beginning of 2012; how have you enjoyed it so far?
It’s great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.

You’re competing in the KF2 World Karting Championships this year; what are your aims for the year ahead?
The goal is always to win, and if you can’t win every time then to pick up the maximum points possible through the year is the most important thing. I managed to break into the top five in the World Championships last year, so the target is to be right at the front this season.

Alexander Albon – Thailand – Formula Renault 2.0

What does the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme mean to you?
It’s great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.

You’ll be tackling Formula Renault 2.0 for the second year in succession in 2013; what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Last year was a very tough one for me, so I’m almost thinking of this as my first real season. The first step will be to improve my consistency and take regular points finishes. With that baseline I’ll then be looking to push towards the top five, the podium and eventually race wins, but the priority is to take things step-by-step and develop a good solid platform to progress. Last year didn’t give me much of an opportunity to see where I stand, so I’m really looking forward to being able to show what I can do.

Argentinian Eric Lichtenstein is the first driver to be announced in Carlin’s GP3 squad for the 2013 season. The 18 year-old arrives fresh from the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and has already impressed the team with his performance in official testing in recent weeks.

Lichtenstein has been an impressive force in Formula Ford this season, in only his second season of car racing, having competed in Formula Pilota China last year. The Buenos Aires native is the first young talent to have emerged from the Velociudad Driver Management Program (VDM) and a serious prospect for Formula One. Lichetenstein was the top rookie in the UK Formula Ford EcoBoost Championship in 2012 and took 15 podiums including 11 victories on his way to third in the standings.

With already two official tests completed, Lichtenstein has completed three days testing in the GP3 car. The Formula Ford racer finished his first day in the GP3 car eighth fastest in Jerez, before flying back to the UK for the Formula Ford Festival.

Returning to test in Estoril, Lichtenstein was sixth fastest in the dry and also in the wet. The 18 year-old will now look forward to testing the new generation GP3 car next year.

Speaking about the season ahead and his new team, Eric said, “I’m really excited to be joining Carlin for GP3. I’ve had the chance to complete a few days with the team now and feel like everything fits together really well already. Carlin have a great reputation and it’s exciting to look at their past drivers and make the next step in my career with them. GP3 is a very exciting championship and to race on the F1 support package and with the new, more powerful car from next season is extremely exciting.”

Trevor Carlin added, “We’re very happy about Eric joining us for the 2013 season. He has been so impressive in testing so far. Considering that Eric has made the big step up from Formula Ford, the progress he has made in his first experience in an aero car has been very impressive. He has been very trusting of the downforce and seems to have a natural feel for it. Importantly, he also responds very well to direction and the team have been very impressed with his attitude. I think he could be a real revelation next season.”

Carlin’s race winning GP3 team embark on the first of two post-season GP3 tests this week, as the team head to Jerez in Spain for an official two day test. Fresh from the season finale a little over a month ago, which saw Antonio Felix da Costa fighting for the championship title, Carlin welcome 2012 British Formula Three Champion Jack Harvey to the cockpit as well as Formula Renault BARC runner-up Josh Webster and multiple Formula Ford race winner Eric Lichenstein.

2012 was Carlin’s most successful year in the championship to date taking four wins over the course of the year and finishing third overall in the team championship, Carlin now look ahead to the two day test in Jerez where they will bring two of their three cars to the circuit. British driver Webster will be in the car for the total duration of the test while Lichenstein will drive on the first day before handing over to Harvey for the second.

The 2012 season saw 18 year-old Webster take an impressive five race wins in the Formula Renault BARC on his way to becoming Vice Champion. While Webster has experience of an F3 car following his participation in this year’s Masters of Formula Three at Zandvoort, this will be Webster’s first taste of a GP3 car and also his first visit to Jerez.

The first day of testing will see Formula Ford driver Lichenstein in the second car for his first GP3 experience. 18 year old Lichenstein had a stunning first year competing in the EcoBoost UK Formula Ford Championship. The young Argentinian finished the season as the top rookie and won more races than any other driver, with 11 victories in total.

Taking over from him on the final day of testing will be 2012 British Formula Three Champion Jack Harvey. Harvey’s championship winning season with Carlin saw him take 13 podiums including seven wins to become the team’s fifth consecutive British F3 champion. Having spent the past two seasons with the British squad Harvey already knows the team well and has spent time in the factory since his championship win in preparation for this week’s test.

Looking ahead to the test, Josh Webster said, “It should be a great experience and completely different to the cars I’ve driven before but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s my first time working with Carlin but I’ve been to the factory and I’m glad to be with an established and experienced team for this test.

“It’s also my first time in Jerez but I’ve been on the simulator to learn the track so I’m confident that I should be able to get to grips with the layout fairly quickly and start concentrating on the car.”

The two day test will span the 24th-25th October.

Alice Powell19 year old British racer Alice Powell clinched her first GP3 Series Drivers’ Championship point in the season finale at Monza this weekend. She is also the first female driver to score a point in the Series, making history at the iconic Italian track.

It was Alice’s first time at the Autodromo Nationale Monza and her weekend kicked off with free practice on Friday. It was a productive session as Alice learnt the track and worked with her Status Grand Prix team to set-up the car and get to grips with the hard tyre option. She ended the day in a comfortable 12th position on the time sheets.

On Saturday morning Alice used only one set of new tyres in qualifying to save a set for the races ahead. The Status GP car had good pace around the track, but Alice was unable to utilise tow from a car in front and was only able to set a time of 1:45.303 seconds to sit in P22 at the end of the session. She was, however, later promoted to P21 for the start of race one following a penalty issued to Kevin Ceccon.

Alice made a decent start to race one on Saturday afternoon. She gained a couple of places before turn one and moved up a further position later in the lap when eventual 2012 Championship winner Mitch Evans went off at turn seven. Alice had a good battle with Visou and Brundle and managed to overtake them both into turn one on lap four. From then on she got her head down to try and catch the pack in front and made great effort avoiding further race incidents to reach P12 at the chequered flag.

After a poor start to race two on Sunday morning, falling back to P15 from P12, Alice took advantage of Conor Daly’s visit to the gravel trap to be up to P14 by the end of lap one. A good battle with Alex Brundle meant that the pair started to lose touch with the group ahead, however Alice managed to break away from Brundle and start to reel in the front runners. Following an off by Mitch Evans and an incident between Will Buller and David Fumanelli, Alice was now charging in P11 with three laps of the race remaining. She then challenged Kevin Ceccon, who she passed going into turn four only to be retaken at the start of the final lap. Determined to make a strong finish and to regain position, Alice got a decent tow coming out of turn seven and hit the brakes late for turn eight in a move that enabled her to cross the finish line in a well deserved P10. Fortunately for Alice, Vaino and Pal Kiss received post race penalties which meant that she was promoted to an 8th place finish and therefore awarded her first GP3 Drivers’ Championship point – the first ever to be received by a female racing driver in the Series too!

Alice Powell, Driver #16 Status Grand Prix, GP3 Team
“To end the weekend like we did is great! Even though qualifying did not go to plan, it has been a good weekend with two solid results. To get my first point in GP3 is brilliant and I am so chuffed. Status Grand Prix has done a great job and helped me so much this year, so to finish the weekend with a top eight finish is fantastic. I have learnt so much throughout the year and could not have learnt the amount I did if it wasn’t for help of the Status crew – so a big thanks to them. Huge thanks also to all of my sponsors this year; it is great to get a good result for them and I hope to raise enough sponsorship to compete in the fantastic GP3 Series next year.”

Simon Cayzer, #16 Engineer, Status Grand Prix, GP3 team
“It’s fantastic that Alice finishes the season with a point score. She has always shown great speed during the season, but getting on the points table had been our target for some races now. To be the first female driver to achieve this in the GP3 Series is a great achievement and it’s testament to all the hard work Alice puts in both on and off the track. The final two rounds at Spa and Monza are ‘big’ tracks with famous corners that require huge commitment. Alice got on top of these circuits very quickly and everyone has been very impressed with her race-craft during these races. Alice was consistently one the fastest drivers in sector two at Monza throughout the whole weekend. Now we look forward to 2013 with the new era GP3 car and sincerely hope that Alice can be with us again next year.”

Photo by  Daniel Kalisz / LAT Photographic

Antonio Felix da CostaIt was a hard weekend of racing for the Carlin GP3 team in Monza with Championship contender Antonio Felix da Costa failing to score points in the first race after an electronic gearbox glitch left his car stuck in sixth gear – dashing his title hopes. Da Costa was looking at serious championship points at the time after his main rival Mitch Evans was forced to watch from the sidelines following damage to his car on the first lap. Buller was involved in a brilliant fight for position during both races, finishing 10th and 12th respectively while Brundle sustained heavy damage to his car in the first race and came through the field in the second to finish 10th. Despite da Costa’s title frustration, Carlin finish the season third in the teams’ championship.

Starting from the front row of the grid the first race of the weekend got off to a messy start as the cars streamed into the first corner. Managing to take avoiding action da Costa held second place in the race before snatching the lead from Matias Laine before the end of the first lap. In taking avoiding action alongside da Costa his main championship rival Evans damaged his car and was forced into retirement – leaving the Carlin man suddenly looking like the title favourite.

Buller had also had a great start and avoided the chaotic first corner accidents however Brundle wasn’t quite so lucky from his starting position; losing his rear wing in the first corner he was black flagged a few laps later.

At the front da Costa was fighting well in the knowledge that the championship was looking good for him. He lost position to Daniel Abt and Aaro Vaino in the next couple of laps but was staying close to the two leaders and remained very much in the hunt for the race win. But disaster struck the Red Bull Junior driver with an electronic gearbox glitch left him stuck in sixth gear – and rapidly falling down through the pack. Pulling the car to the side of the road da Costa resolved the problem using the master switch to restart the car however this subsequently left him lying near the back of the field as a result.

Buller meanwhile was involved in a great battle for position with Conor Daly, Tamas Pal Kiss and Giovanni Venturini which resulted in positions changing almost every corner. Out of the battle Buller would cross the line in 11th position however a time penalty for Laine brought Buller into position to take the final point in 10th.

Da Costa was pushing hard despite his heartbreak and crossed the line in 15th place where he would start for the second race of the weekend.

With no championship to fight for da Costa started the race with the aim in mind to make his way up the field and solidify his third place in the championship standings. Once again the Carlin man was quick off the line and was eighth by the end of the first lap and challenging those ahead. Driving strongly he made up a handful of positions to fifth while Evans and Abt were in their own respective battles for championship glory. At the chequered flag, da Costa crossed the line to secure third in the championship in what has been an incredible impressive year for the Portuguese racer.

Meanwhile Brundle had started well from 23rd on the grid and was making his way through the pack. The British racer made the most of every possible overtaking opportunity and crossed the line in a solid 10th place.

Buller’s race was similar to yesterday’s with a multitude of drivers after the same position. While trying to avoid the spinning car of Laine, Buller was forced into a spin which ultimately lost him a handful of positions – taking the flag in in 14th position.

Reflecting on his championship battle, da Costa said, “Its racing and it happens. It’s a shame because the team have worked so hard and I was so, so close to the title. I could actually feel it as I was driving around yesterday and then it was snatched away from me. But we’ve had an amazing season and I’ve enjoyed the racing and working with the team.”

Trevor Carlin added, “Our GP3 team and drivers have done a fantastic job this season. Third in the drivers and teams’ standings is a great achievement, and if it hadn’t been for a very cruel stroke of luck yesterday, Antonio could have been looking at first in the championship. I think both the team and Antonio will be remembered for raw speed this season, which has given us a great foundation for the future.”

Photo by Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.

Antonio Felix da Costa will start the first race of this weekend’s final GP3 Series round from the front row of the grid after a tightly fought qualifying session around the Autodromo di Monza. The Carlin man had been quick from the off and had been trading places at the top with team mate William Buller however da Costa lost out on pole by just 0.020 seconds and will start from second place. Buller qualified in seventh while Alex Brundle struggled to get a tow on his quick lap leaving him to qualifying 19th.

The final qualifying session of the 2012 GP3 Series saw a stream of drivers take to the track as the lights went out – all of them keen to get their laps in early and to gain the advantage of a tow from the cars ahead.

Currently lying second in the championship da Costa took to the track and began fighting for position and aiming for pole. However it was Buller who was the fastest of the Carlin men during the opening lap, moving up to sixth place before setting another great lap to sit at the top.

Behind him, da Costa was going even quicker however despite setting the fastest first sector the Red Bull Junior caught a little bit of traffic in the final corners which took provisional pole away from him – crossing the line in second. His next lap was good enough to go quickest while Buller was also looking strong and crossed the line to go third before they both returned to the pits.

Meanwhile Brundle was having a difficult session and was unable to find a flying lap – lying out of position in 18th place before coming into the pits for a few adjustments himself.
The clock continued to count away the minutes of the final qualifying session of the year; and with just 12 minutes left the three Carlin men returned to the track for their final run.

As had been the earlier story Buller and da Costa continued to trade places with both of them remaining in the top three throughout. However da Costa came under pressure from his Championship rival Mitch Evans who set a flying lap to knock the Carlin man down to second. Fighting hard during the next two laps da Costa was close but unable to snatch back the pole position and four championship points.

Buller had fallen down the order as a multitude of drivers crossed the line and was unable to improve on his previous lap which saw him qualify in seventh place. Brundle’s tough qualifying continued and he crossed the line to qualify 19th.

‘Now I have to push to get a good start and a good race this afternoon,’ said da Costa, ‘which is what I’ve been doing all year. I like starting from second place on the grid – I just don’t like losing the four points to Mitch [Evans]. The team did a good job today and we know we have the pace. This afternoon we’ll be trying to win and get the points for the championship – there are only two races left and I think from here both of them can be strong.’

Antonio Felix da CostaDespite being the first driver to secure a pole position in this year’s GP3 Series, Antonio Felix da Costa’s season has been one of ups and downs. A strong second half of the season has seen the Portuguese racer move right into contention for the championship spoils, with the Carlin man now second in the standings, just 21.5 points behind Mitch Evans.

You had some bad luck at the start of the season. Did that affect your confidence?
Not really to be honest. We went to the first race of the year and straight away we were quickest. Unfortunately I made a silly mistake on pole and it became a bad weekend. We probably lost 20 points that weekend. Then we had an issue in Valencia with the brakes, where once again we should have been coming away with big points. I was unlucky on the grid at Hockenheim with the choice of tyres. But none of the problems we’ve had this year have been because of our speed. We’ve been quick all season.

Have you been surprised by the level of competition in GP3 this year?
I think in every championship it’s hard to win. There’s always top class drivers but you just do your best and think about your own season.

You became part of the Red Bull Junior Team half way through the year. Has that a difference to your GP3 season?
No not really. I’ve had to adapt a little going from the GP3 car to the FR3.5 car and with difference teams as well, but I don’t think it’s made me less competitive in GP3. If anything it’s made me more competitive and better prepared as I’ve had to be more focused and keep a cool head to be able to adapt backwards and forwards. The only unusual thing is that I’m fighting Arden for the championship in GP3, and I drive for them in FR3.5!

Do you think you benefitted in that your approach to the second half of the season has been to win races and not the championship?
Yes for sure, after the first few races we were quite a lot of points down so I just decided to take risks and that approach paid off. I don’t think I can be lower than fourth in the championship now. I just want to be able to show what I and the team can do, and so far that approach has been working so let’s see what this weekend brings. I would rather crash pushing for the win than finish fourth or fifth.

You became the first driver to win both races in a GP3 weekend at Hungary, was that the turning point of your season?
For sure that was the turning point for us getting back into the championship and we got a lot of points back at Spa as well. To be the first driver to win both GP3 races in a weekend is a nice feeling, so thanks to everyone around me in the team that made that possible.

Monza is an eventful circuit, anything can happen. What do you think will be the key to success this weekend?
I think if we trust each other enough to work as a team within Carlin, as drivers it will be a big help and very important. It you don’t have a tow, you won’t get pole at Monza, and the points in qualifying are important. The tow has a really big impact on the GP3 cars, so you can be quick on your own, but you won’t get pole here without a tow. You have to be clever.

You’re still quite a way off points leader Mitch Evans heading into Monza. How does that affect your approach?
I have nothing to lose. What’s the point of coming and not trying to win? Only the maximum is the aim and then by Sunday afternoon we can look at the points table and see how it turned out. Whatever happens it’s been a great season, I’ve enjoyed so much being part of the team and we’re like a family now. But we all want to win, so that’s my only goal this weekend.

Photo by Daniel Kalisz / LAT Photographic

With just one round to go Carlin’s Antonio Felix da Costa is well and truly in the GP3 Series title hunt after a strong weekend in Belgium saw him move up to second place in the championship standings. Taking two podium positions during a heavily disrupted weekend the Red Bull Junior has just two races in which to close the points gap to Series leader Mitch Evans. Carlin team mates William Buller and Alex Brundle have also been consistent points scorers this season and will be looking to end their season with more strong results at Monza this weekend.

With back to back races it has been a tight turnaround for the team who left Belgium with two more trophies following a strong weekend for da Costa. An extremely heavy crash for Robert Cregan early on in the first race last Saturday brought out the red flags and the race came to a premature end. Da Costa who had started from fourth on the grid had moved up to second place early on, and although only half points were awarded he began closing the gap to second placed man in the standings Aaro Vainio.

Starting from seventh on the grid on Sunday morning da Costa made his way through the field and up to second position as the flag fell. The strong weekend also saw him take points for fastest lap in both races – and snatch second in the overall standings from Vainio to move within 21.5 points of leader Mitch Evans.

Team mates Brundle and Buller both endured a difficult qualifying and race one, but bounced back with some impressive overtaking manoeuvres in race two, with Buller taking a point for eighth place putting the duo on equal points. So far this year Buller has taken a sensational win from the back of grid during a tricky race at Silverstone while Brundle took his first GP3 Series podium in Hungary after a great drive on slick tyres on a drying track.

As the 2012 season reaches its climax at the historic Monza circuit this weekend tensions will be high in the most closely fought GP3 season so far. The Italian track is always a firm favourite with drivers who enjoy the long, fast straights, which provide plenty of slip streaming and overtaking opportunities. Having hosted Formula One every year since the championship begun the track is also steeped in history from its iconic banking to the sell-out crowds.

Looking ahead to final two rounds da Costa said, “The whole team is in a confident mood heading to Monza. Obviously we want to win, and we are in a good position now after two strong weekends in Hungary and Spa. People are saying there is no pressure, but of course there is pressure, although its internal and the pressure we put on ourselves to win. We are going to push every lap as hard as we can for victory.”

Team mate Buller added, ‘It’s great to have the final round as a back to back race and even better that we finish the season at such a great track. I’m looking forward to this weekend a lot and Monza is probably one of my favourite circuits because it provides great overtaking opportunities and is very fast and flowing. The key will be a good qualifying on Saturday morning and then take it from there.’

Brundle said of his season, ‘I think the season has gone well for me considering that it’s my rookie year in the GP3 Series, we’ve picked up some good results and I’ve enjoyed driving the car. I’ve had some good races here in the past so I can’t wait to get back out on track and hopefully do the same again – and the atmosphere here when you’re racing is really amazing.’

Alice PowellBritish GP3 rookie Alice Powell showed maturity and focus, bouncing back in the final race after a difficult start to the weekend for herself and her Status Grand Prix team in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

Following a wet and limited free practice on Friday due to a severe engine issue, Alice took to the track for qualifying on Saturday morning. Unfortunately a further engine issuse (which was nothing to do with the team) on lap two of her running, forced her to return to the pits to sort the problem. With only enough time left in the session for one stint out on track, Alice was the only car to use solely one set of new tyres during qualifying and she ended in a disappointing P20.

Alice got a poor start to Race One on Saturday afternoon, but she was fighting her way through the field well when Ocean Racing Technology’s Robert Cregan had a premature end to his race after a crash at turn 10 into the tyre barrier. After the safety car was deployed the race was soon red flagged and not restarted meaning that Alice was unable to improve on her current position of P18.

She had a difficult start off the line for Race Two on Sunday morning, falling to P21. Alice kept her head down however and fought fantastically through the field, showing her pace. Three laps from the end she pulled off a brave move on team mate Stockinger and Mitch Evans to clinch 12th place. She was quickly catching Alex Brundle, but ran out of time to get onto the back of him before the chequered flag.

Alice Powell, Driver #16 Status Grand Prix, GP3 Team
“It was a really mixed weekend for us. It was my first time driving at Spa and I absolutely love the track. We had a number of issues at the start of the weekend, and then the red flag and ultimate stopping of race one which ruined my chances of a good position, but the main thing is that Robert is okay. I made a shocking start off line in race two, but the car was good and I knew that I had to be brave and pull off some moves. You can get a good tow on the straights here at Spa and so I went for it. I wanted to achieve a good result for my sponsors, the team and myself; it is a shame about my start as we could have had a top 10 finish, but I am pleased with our final result and the weekend ended well.”

Simon Cayzer, #16 Engineer, Status Grand Prix, GP3 team
“Alice has driven very well all weekend. We started with a very difficult practice session; it was wet and her first time at Spa. We also had an engine issue and were significantly down on power, but this issue was sorted out over night. However, we endured a further engine problem during qualifying and although it was quickly rectified, Alice missed quite a bit of track time. As a result we changed our strategy to use only one set of new tyres, giving us an extra new set for the races. We did not have the best start to race one, but the car was quick and she had good straight line speed as we had opted for a low down-force option. We could have had a good result had the race not ended prematurely. Alice had a good solid race two today with lots of overtaking to produce a great P12 result. Although we had technical issues which were out of the team’s control this weekend, Alice put this to one side and kept focused. She demonstrated that she can overtake very well, use the tow – techniques required for a good race at Monza and the points will come.”

Photo by Daniel Kalisz / LAT Photographic.

Antonio Felix da CostaAntonio Felix da Costa strengthened his position in the climax to this year’s GP3 Series, with an impressive fight back to second place in race two of the weekend this morning. The Carlin driver put in a series of impressive overtaking moves to finish ahead of the championship leaders, as did his team mates William Buller and Alex Brundle to climb up to eighth and 11th places respectively.

Starting from seventh on the grid, da Costa made a good start off the line but was blocked by several other cars as the field thundered into La Source. The Portuguese racer wisely stayed out of trouble and bided his time.

After the first half of lap one saw several of the leaders clash, da Costa was able to storm through to fifth place, just behind fourth place man and championship leader Mitch Evans. Buller meanwhile had climbed up to P11, while Brundle was 18th.

At the front da Costa and Evans were closer than ever, but the two made contact which allowed sixth placed man Fontana to close in and put da Costa under pressure. The Carlin man managed to pull away though and close back in on Evans. A strong run through Eau Rouge on lap five put da Costa sufficiently close enough to steal fourth from Evans with a great move through Les Combes.

Team mate Buller meanwhile was involved in a close battle with Patrick Neiderhause with the duo swapping places several times as Buller briefly took eighth place. By lap six Neiderhause had taken the place back, with Buller in ninth.

Da Costa made it into a podium position on lap nine as he passed Lewis Williamson for third, while Buller and Brundle were in the top half of the field in ninth and 13th.

Da Costa was still on the pace and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10, having previously set the fastest time on lap seven. That pace saw his close in quickly on second placed man Conor Daly, and the Carlin driver passed the American on lap 11. Behind him Buller and Brundle were still making progress and had both passed Evans and were running in ninth and 11th place.

The action continued to the chequered flag, with Buller stealing eighth place and the final championship point. Brundle was also pushing hard and tried to pass Tomas Pal Kiss at the Bus Stop, but couldn’t quite make a move stick and had to be content with 11th across the line.

Da Costa’s second podium of the weekend sees him move to second place in the drivers’ standings, with just one event remaining, next week in Monza.

Reflecting on his race, da Costa said, “Today was a really good race. I haven’t been thinking at all about the championship. My only aim was to win as many races as possible, so I’m delighted now to be in second in the standings. The team did a great job to give me such a good car this weekend. I’m really looking forward to Monza now and seeing what we can do there.”

The drivers will take just a few days rest before the season finale at Monza next weekend.

Photo by Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.