Mercedes F1 junior Russell fastest on first day of GP3 test for ART

Mercedes F1 junior George Russell kicked off preparations for his rookie GP3 campaign by setting the pace on the first pre-season test day at Estoril on Wednesday

Mercedes F1 junior Russell fastest on first day of GP3 test for ART

Russell, who became affiliated with Mercedes during the off-season and was later announced as part of ART's GP3 line-up, set a fastest time of 1m27.606s in the afternoon session.

The majority of the morning running took place in wet and windy conditions.

Only Raoul Hyman - who is testing with Campos but does not have a seat confirmed for the 2017 season - completed a lap on slicks during that session, with his effort fastest by over five seconds as a result.

But the field bettered that benchmark almost immediately after the lunch break, with ART's Nirei Fukuzumi, Italians Leonardo Pulcini and Alessio Lorandi, as well as Arjun Maini all leading at one point.

Russell then moved to the top of the timesheet in the final hour of running, and ended the day fastest by 0.079 seconds from team-mate Fukuzumi.

Hyman completed a strong day in third, less than a tenth slower than Russell.

Anthoine Hubert made it three ART drivers in the top four while Maini, who will take part in his first full-time GP3 season this year, was fifth ahead of Ferrari junior Giuliano Alesi and Dorian Boccolacci.

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