The 2018 GP3 season kicks off in Spain

Drivers' group photo, Catalunya 2018
The class of 2018

The ninth GP3 Series season is ready to start in Catalunya.

2018 will be the last year for the GP3 Series as we know it. From 2019 a merger between GP3 and Formula 3 has been announced, though the format will likely remain very similar.

The 2018 season will be the third for the Dallara GP3/16, which mounts a 3.4l engine which can produce 400hp. Each driver will get a maximum of six DRS uses during the feature races and four during the sprint races, to be used at any point of the race but only in the same DRS zones us for F2 and F1.

Only six teams will compete in 2018, with MP Motorsport taking over DAMS’ entry after two seasons. There is still the option for a team to field four cars, though only the three best-placed will give points for the teams’ championship.

The calendar sees a one-race increase from 2017, as does Formula 2, because of Paul Ricard returning to the Formula 1 calendar; the penultimate round in Jerez has been replaced in both series with a return to Sochi.

Here is the entry list for the first round to be held in Spain this weekend:

ART
1. Callum Ilott (GBR)
2. Anthoine Hubert (FRA)
3. Nikita Mazepin (RUS)
4. Jake Hughes (GBR)

Trident
5. Pedro Piquet (BRA)
6. Giuliano Alesi (FRA)
7. Ryan Tveter (USA)
8. Alessio Lorandi (ITA)

Jenzer
9. Tatiana Calderon (COL)
10. Juan Manuel Correa (USA)
11. David Beckmann (GER)

Arden
14. Gabriel Aubry (FRA)
15. Julien Falchero (FRA)
16. Joey Mawson (AUS)

Campos
18. Leonardo Pulcini (ITA)
19. Simo Laaksonen (FIN)
20. Diego Menchaca (MEX)

MP Motosport
22. Dorian Boccolacci (FRA)
23. Will Palmer (GBR)
24. Niko Kari (FIN)

ART won their third teams’ title in a row and sweeped the top four positions in the drivers’ championship. The winner George Russell and the runner-up Jack Aitken were promoted to ART’s F2 team; Fukuzumi graduated with Arden. Just like an year ago, ART kept one of its four drivers, this time Anthoine Hubert. He is joined by Ferrari junior Callum Ilott, who finished fourth in F3 and also had his F2 début. Mazepin finished tenth in F3 and is a regular Force India tester; Hughes was fifth in F3 but has a season’s experience of GP3 under his belt, as he raced in 2016 with DAMS.

Trident field Giuliano Alesi for a third season. Having won three races in 2017 he now must make the step towards becoming a title contender, even though ART’s line-up is menacing. Tveter also remains with Trident for a second season while Lorandi moves in from Jenzer. Rookie Pedro Piquet comes from F3, where he took a single podium in two seasons and finished 2017 in 14th place.

Jenzer is the third different team in three years for Tatiana Calderon. This year she must become a regular points-scorer, after becoming Sauber’s test driver. Correa stays put having entered the previous season mid way-through, while rookie Beckmann comes from two seasons in F3 and was 16th last year.

Arden start fresh with Aubry, who was fifth in both Formula Renault 2.0 championships last year, and has won the first WEC race of the 2018-19 season in LMP2. Falchero has a season under his belt with Campos, while Mawson comes from a single F3 season, where he was 13th.

Campos bring in Pulcini from Arden: the Italian was promising in the first weekend but never matched that level again in 2017. Laaksonen comes from Euroformula Open, where he drove for Campos, and Menchaca comes from the World Series V8 3.5 with Fortec, who initially were to enter F2, and he was 9th in the standings.

Finally, MP Motorsport enter with one of the most promising rookies of 2017, Boccolacci, who won one race and took two second places for Trident. He is joined by fellow GP3 race winner Niko Kari coming from Arden, and by Palmer, who was second in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 last year and is the brother of the 2014 GP2 champion.

Are you excited for the upcoming season? Who do you think will win these year’s titles? Have your say in the comments below.

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