BRDC F4 Champion George Russell starred on his GP3 prize test with Arden International (Thursday), outpacing many more experienced drivers on newer tyres to post some of the day's fastest times at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi.
The 16-year-old, who claimed the BRDC F4 title at Snetterton in October, was a constant presence at the top of the time sheets, posting the third fastest time in the morning session, fifth fastest in the afternoon, and sixth quickest of the whole day. He was on course to potentially set the fastest lap of the day in the afternoon session, having set best times in the first two sectors, when red flags forced him to abandon his lap. Russell completed 50 laps in total.
Two other BRDC F4 graduates, Seb Morris and Raoul Hyman, were also in action in Abu Dhabi. Both recorded lap times just over one second off the session best. Hyman's day was hindered by technical issues. Both are in action again tomorrow.
Russell commented: “Today has gone better than I could possibly have expected. It was a tough task to learn the car and the circuit in one day but we adapted very well and the speed was there from very early on.
"It was quite easy to adapt to the GP3 car from the F4. It has a similar power-to-grip ratio, but obviously the GP3 car has more all round! It was a big step, but it was quite easily manageable. My performance today has opened up GP3 as a possibility for next year, there are lots of options on the table, and we won't be ruling anything out yet.
"We were running on old tyres in our third run in the afternoon and we had set first and second sectors which would have been good enough to put us overall fastest or at least second. But we had to abort the lap because of a red flag, and this was against drivers on new tyres. Then when we went to put on new tyres, the red flag was still out and it only left us with five minutes when the session restarted.
"I'm very grateful to BRDC F4 for this opportunity. It's given me the chance to show the GP3 paddock and Arden what I'm capable of and hopefully after a successful day it has opened up a couple more doors for me. I wouldn't have had this opportunity if I hadn't competed in BRDC F4!"
GP3 Test, Abu Dhabi, combined classification:
1. Kevin Ceccon, Jenzer, 1m55.501s2. Andrea Pizzitola, ART Grand Prix, 1m55.832s3. Mitchel Gilbert, Arden International, 1m55.885s4. Alex Palou, Trident, 1m55.971s5. Matheo Tuscher, Jenzer, 1m56.034s6. George Russell, Arden International, 1m56.078s7. Ed Jones, Carlin, 1m56.165s8. Artur Janosz, ART Grand Prix, 1m56.280s9. Luca Ghiotto, Trident, 1m56.264s10. Patrick Kujala, Arden International, 1m56.309s
19. Seb Morris, Status Grand Prix, 1m56.846s20. Raoul Hyman, Jenzer, 1m56.989s