Pirelli concludes thrilling GP3 season at Monza
The new eight-round GP3 Series - which took place exclusively at Formula One race meetings this year - was designed as a stepping-stone to GP2, which in turn has proved to be the established route to Formula One, with 11 drivers graduating in recent seasons.
The qualifying session at Monza, with its two supplementary points, crowned the first GP3 Series champion: Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez, driving for the ART team from France - which also clinched the teams' title, running on Pirelli's 13-inch P Zero tires.
With identical 280-horsepower Renault-engined cars and control tires, the emphasis in GP3 is firmly on driving talent: true to Pirelli's motorsport philosophy of nurturing the stars of the future.
Pirelli brought medium compound P Zero tires to Monza, which were also used at the last round of the series in Belgium. Monza is Pirelli's home race, located just half an hour from the company's headquarters, and the circuit contains a number of unique challenges for tires thanks to its rapid straights and raised kerbing on the chicanes.
Gutierrez dominated the weekend, setting fastest time in practice and qualifying to clinch the title before crowning his achievement with a hard-fought win in race one on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning's second race was claimed by Robert Wickens, in a sensational drive from fifth on the grid.
Pirelli's racing manager Mario Isola commented: "We've enjoyed an exciting end to what has been a fascinating inaugural season of the new GP3 Series, in which Pirelli was proud to play a key role as we returned to circuit racing for the first time in 20 years: the first step of an engagement that we will maximize next year. Our medium-compound rubber performed very well at Monza, which is an extremely demanding circuit for the tire construction because of both high speeds and the aggressive kerbing. Esteban is a truly deserving champion who has made his mark on the series from the very start of the year; we wish him yet more success on our tires for the future and we already look forward to supplying GP3 again with some new products next year."