Fresh from my Formula 1 adventures (or #F1 as they say now), I was biding my time, resting my mind in search of something suitable to do and GP3 Series’ visit to Estoril presented me with a good opportunity to try something new.
Iberian-mobile (also known as “my car”) was being repaired so I had to take an alternative route to the circuit: train + taxi + bus. Very entertaining it was! I arrived in style, got excited, immediately took some pics and headed towards a friendly guard with a massive walkie-talkie at the paddock entrance; for sure, the aforementioned politically correct employee of a private security company didn’t have my name on the list of GP3 paddock guests, you know. I could more or less see it coming and wasted no time in taking pics from the main grandstand instead: first toying with my new camera (or rather its endless zoom functions) and then switching to the old one for shots of cars going at full speed.
I walked around the circuit a couple of times before noon looking for holes in the fence, taking spy shots and artsy shots in general, just enjoying the action. Weather conditions were perfect – glorious sunshine; elaborate plans for any impromptu driver interviews/cool paddock pics had to be aborted (obviously). Furthermore, I experienced a huge shock when all on-track activity ceased for a lunch break between 12:00 hrs and 13:00 hrs; the chequered flag fell at 16:00 hrs! This is a very relaxing testing mode by any standard.
The cars looked chic, they had good track presence and were spitting impressive flames in slow corners all the time – ideal for a decent piccie. Noise levels were fine, I hope 2014 F1 cars sound more or less the same. I’d say it’s a user-friendly noise.
It’s a bit difficult to place GP2/GP3 operation on the motorsport map right now: I was asked a few times by various passers-by what cars were testing (because I look like a mighty pundit with all my equipment you see). I tried different pronunciations and types of explanation but people seemed to think these were Formula 3 machines! Mean, the FIA should probably do something about the current melting pot of lower formulae: it probably makes more sense to have F1/F2/F3 scheme to guarantee that casual fans don’t get lost in this world of Superleague Formula, AutoGP, GP2, GP3, WSR… Define yer targets, gentlemen.
GP3 felt pretty professional from the outside: there’s the distinctive feel of corporateness, you could see it’s a top class competition. Race grids were full last year in Monza and the same trend continued in Estoril with winter testing, so I must conclude GP3 is in good health; some teams are backed by sister F1 operations, while drivers look pretty strong. My only complaint has to do with GP3/GP2/F1 progression – it doesn’t make sense. Formula 1 is not called GP1.
Click here to view the full GP3 Series gallery.