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Will gets first taste of GP3 in Abu Dhabi

Will Palmer, the 2015 BRDC Formula 4 champion, got his first experience of a GP3 car as he took to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi today (December 2) with the Arden International team. The 18-year-old made a significant improvement in his times throughout the day and ended both the morning and afternoon sessions in 15th position, completing 48 laps running.

With three days of group testing scheduled on the 3.45-mile track, Will joined Arden, a renowned single-seater team ran by Christian Horner, for the first day as he evaluates a move into the GP3 Series for 2016. He will subsequently drive for DAMS, who have won titles in GP2, Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula E, for Thursday's running before finishing the test behind the wheel of one of ART Grand Prix's GP3 cars.

In the morning session, Will emerged on to the track and began to rack up the laps in the hot conditions usually expected in Abu Dhabi. An early red flag was caused by Brazilian rookie Pedro Cardoso stopping on track before action resumed. Two more stoppages followed, caused by Nirei Fukuzumi and Tatiana Calderon respectively, with times dropping in the final few minutes before lunch. Will posted a best lap time of 1m57.932s, completing 21 laps of running, which proved good enough for 15th position.

In the second two-and-a-half hour session held in the afternoon, all 21 drivers returned to the track using the medium Pirelli tyres and Will significantly improved his personal best lap time, clocking a 1m56.843s, a drop of over one second. The Southwater racer completed 27 tours of the circuit, taking his total for the day to 48, ahead of tomorrow's planned running with the French DAMS squad.

Speaking at the end of the day, Will said: "Today has been positive overall and it has been an amazing experience to be driving here in Abu Dhabi. The car is a big step up in performance from the F4 car but Arden got me up to speed well and I felt comfortable in it by the end of the day. I didn't manage to hook up that good a lap on new tyres, so I'm confident with today's experience as we should be able to improve over the next two days."

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc was fastest overall, with a best lap time of 1m55.209s, as he headed Antonio Fuoco and Jake Dennis.

Morning Session

1. Matthew Parry, Trident, 1m55.800s
2. Jack Aitken, Koiranen GP, 1m55.958s
3. Antonio Fuoco, Trident, 1m55.993s
4. Jake Dennis, Arden International, 1m56.121s
5. Jake Hughes, Koiranen GP, 1m56.228s
6. Kevin Joerg, Trident, 1m56.244s
7. Steijn Schothorst, Campos Racing, 1m56.437s
8. Ralph Boschung, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m56.536s
9. Matevos Isaakyan, Koiranen GP, 1m56.829s
10. Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix, 1m57.090s
11. Nabil Jeffri, ART Grand Prix, 1m57.275s
12. Santino Ferrucci, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m57.629s
13. Pedro Cardoso, Campos Racing, 1m57.793s
14. Leonardo Pulcini, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m57.921s
15. Will Palmer, Arden International, 1m57.932s
16. Tatiana Calderon, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m58.004s
17. Antoni Ptak, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m58.557s
18. Mahaveer Raghunathan, Campos Racing, 1m58.792s
19. Giuliano Alesi, Arden International, 1m59.175s
20. Nico Rindlisbacher, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m59.180s
21. Nirei Fukuzumi, ART Grand Prix, 2m16.963s

Afternoon Session

1. Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix, 1m55.209s
2. Antonio Fuoco, Trident ,1m55.657s
3. Jake Dennis, Arden International, 1m55.760s
4. Jake Hughes, Koiranen GP, 1m55.949s
5. Matevos Isaakyan, Koiranen GP, 1m55.985s
6. Kevin Joerg, Trident, 1m56.047s
7. Ralph Boschung, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m56.065s
8. Nabil Jeffri, ART Grand Prix, 1m56.156s
9. Nirei Fukuzumi, ART Grand Prix, 1m56.292s
10. Matthew Parry, Trident, 1m56.369s
11. Jack Aitken, Koiranen GP, 1m56.450s
12. Steijn Schothorst, Campos Racing, 1m56.621s
13. Tatiana Calderon, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m56.664s
14. Santino Ferrucci, DAMS/Status Grand Prix, 1m56.755s
15. Will Palmer, Arden International, 1m56.843s
16. Leonardo Pulcini, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m57.136s
17. Giuliano Alesi, Arden International, 1m57.250s
18. Nico Rindlisbacher, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m57.444s
19. Pedro Cardoso, Campos Racing, 1m57.515s
20. Mahaveer Raghunathan, Campos Racing, 1m57.705s
21. Antoni Ptak, Jenzer Motorsport, 1m57.904s

Photo credit: GP3 Media Services

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