Successful GP3 weekend for Pirelli at Istanbul Park
Pirelli has continued its return to open-wheel racing in the second round of the inaugural GP3 Series, held at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey. The highly competitive GP3 championship was launched this year as the springboard to GP2, which is widely acknowledged as the established route to Formula One. Having got off to a successful start in Barcelona - where Pirelli's distinctive yellow trucks were seen in a Grand Prix paddock for the first time in 20 years - the series continued in Turkey: a significant venue for Pirelli, as the Italian firm's competition tyres are made in Izmit, just an hour away from Istanbul. The Istanbul Park circuit opened in August 2005 and forms the venue for round seven of this year's Formula One World Championship, giving the 30 talented youngsters who compete in GP3 the chance to display their abilities in front of some of the most influential people in motorsport. With identical Renault-engined Dallara chassis producing 280 horsepower, the accent is firmly on driving performance. Once more, Pirelli brought its medium-compound PZero 13-inch GP3 tyres to the race: identical to the tyres that had been used in Barcelona. Conditions were dry and warm for both GP3 races - which were held on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, lasting half an hour each. Throughout both races the new Pirelli tyres performed perfectly, providing excellent grip and reliability while teaching the young drivers how best to manage their rubber. ART driver Esteban Gutierrez dominated Saturday's first race by surging past the pole-sitter Nigel Melker, before extending his lead lap by lap and eventually winning by 10.5 seconds ahead of Manor's James Jakes. In the second race on Sunday morning, Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto (Manor) started from pole on the reversed grid, and eventually won from MW Arden's Miki Monras and ART's American driver Alexander Rossi. Pirelli's Racing Manager Mario Isola commented: "Here in Istanbul Park we experienced much more extreme conditions than we found in Barcelona earlier this month, with air temperatures in the region of 32 to 33 degrees centigrade and track temperatures of up to 50 degrees. Despite these conditions, the medium compound tyres - identical to the ones we used in Barcelona - were reliable with a consistent wear rate, proving their suitability to a wide range of temperatures. I think we still need to build in a slightly greater degree of artificial degradation, in order to make the cars slide more, but we have a constant dialogue with the championship organisers and the flexibility to adapt the tyres from race to race." The next two races of the nine-round GP3 Series takes place at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, from June 25-27.