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Formula Renault 3.5

Three separate Formula One testing events for young drivers were organised this year, including a session for some teams at Silverstone in July, then at Magny-Cours in September with the final session having just taken place at Abu Dhabi. Six drivers from the Formula Renault 3.5 Series made the most of these days to showcase their talents in Formula One, proving once again that the premier class in the World Series by Renault is the perfect feeding ground for the pinnacle of motorsport.

Starting with Jules Bianchi (Scuderia Ferrari and Sahara Force India Formula One Team) and Sam Bird (Mercedes AMG Formula One Team) at Magny-Cours, Robin Frijns (Sauber Formula One Team and Red Bull Racing), Kevin Magnussen (McLaren Mercedes), Antonio Felix da Costa (Red Bull Racing) and Alexander Rossi (Caterham Formula One Team) at Abu Dhabi, all six drivers promoting the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series took part in the Formula One tests for young drivers.

Former old hands from the series also shone during these tests, namely Giedo Van der Garde (Caterham Formula One Team), Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion in 2008, Oliver Turvey (McLaren Mercedes), 4th and Best Rookie in 2009 as well as Brendon Hartley (Mercedes AMG Formula One Team), winner of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2007 and organiser of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for three seasons.

In September, at Magny-Cours, Jules Bianchi, runner-up in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series 2012, covered more than 1,500 kilometres in testing and ended each day topping the time sheets. At Abu Dhabi, it was the turn of Kevin Magnussen to prove himself fastest on Tuesday, posting a 1’42’’661, and that of Antonio Felix da Costa on Wednesday with a 1’42’’679.

Jean-Pascal Dauce, Renault Sport Technologies competition director, was, therefore, satisfied with the efforts of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers: “Through their performance and ability to adapt immediately, our drivers have demonstrated the degree to which Formula Renault 3.5 has prepared them for Formula One. In recognition of his title, Robin Frijns was invited by Renault Sport Technologies and Red Bull Racing to carry out a day of testing. Robin had already turned the wheels of a Formula One car in anger aboard a Red Bull at Moscow Raceway during the World Series by Renault event. In Abu Dhabi, he has done a good day’s work with Sauber and has demonstrated his professionalism within the Formula One double world champion team. Frijns, Jules Bianchi, Sam Bird, Antonio Felix da Costa, Kevin Magnussen and Rossi have all proven they have unquestionably earned their places in Formula One.”

They say:

Robin Frijns: “With a day with Sauber and then a day with Red Bull, I was able to gauge the level to which the track time aboard the Formula Renault 3.5 car has been beneficial. It’s really the braking which is the most impressive thing and making full use of the tyres which is the most complicated. The day spent with Red Bull was interesting as we tried different things. I made a few minor errors with my set of softs, but it was still a positive day. I am so very grateful to Renault Sport Technologies for having given me this opportunity.”

Kevin Magnussen: “Although the Formula Renault 3.5 is a fantastic car, the Formula One car is on a different planet. It’s not so much the speed that is breath-taking, but the sensation that everything here is electronic, whereas in the other series everything is mechanical. These tests are an amazing experience, made all the more so by driving for McLaren Mercedes; the dream team. Nothing is official as yet, but I am aiming to compete in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series again next season, with Formula One always in my line of sight.”

Antonio Felix da Costa: “I had taken part in test days in 2010. Coming from F3 the step up was enormous and it was incredibly difficult to adapt. This year, with my experience in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, it went very well indeed. The thing that threw me most was the sheer number of people involved. I was asked so many things over the radio that I think I could cover an entire lap answering them now! Red Bull Racing seem happy with the work we have done together. It’s very interesting to compare my data with Sebastian Vettel’s and Mark Webber’s. Next year, it’s practically a given that I will be taking part in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The decision is up to Red Bull Racing to make.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 08 November 2012
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