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Formula Renault 3.5

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series field assembled on Tuesday for the last round of collective testing before the season gets under way. Dominating the morning session was Kevin Magnussen (Dams), while the afternoon belonged to Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham), who beat the fastest qualifying lap in 2012 by a second in posting the quickest time of the day.

Despite cool conditions at the start of the first session, the drivers were greeted by a dry track and the prospect of getting plenty of kilometres under their belts.
“I just did a couple of installation laps and that was enough for me to see that the track wasn’t that dirty,” said Kevin Magnussen. “After that I switched to a set of worn tyres to get my bearings before doing a third run on new tyres, which is when I did the best time of the morning.”

Brazil’s Andre Negrao (International Draco Racing) had an off-track excursion as he pushed hard in reply, with no one coming close to Kevin Magnussen’s time, though six other drivers did join him in slipping under the 1:30 mark: Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports), Marco Sorensen (Lotus), Norman Nato (Dams), Arthur Pic (AV Formula), Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham Motorsport) and Sergey Sirotkin (ISR).
The flying Magnussen put in more track time than anyone in the afternoon, stringing together 50 laps in total, a distance of nearly 230 km. Most of his adversaries followed suit, searching for performance in race conditions.

The new tyres were unwrapped an hour before the chequered flag. Will Stevens (P1 Motorsport) was the first to impress as he climbed to the top of the timesheets, though his reign was cut short 20 minutes from the end of the session, as first Kevin Magnussen, Marco Sorensen and then Antonio Felix da Costa eclipsed his time, the Portuguese trimming over a second off the fastest lap in 2012 qualifying.

What they said:

Norman Nato: “That’s the first time this winter we’ve started a session on a dry track, and it was very nice too. The temperatures were much higher than at Motorland Aragon and Paul Ricard and we had to change the set-up accordingly. I did a lot of work on pit-stops and starts, which meant I had to get used to the paddle shifts on the steering wheel, something that’s new to me. As for the tyre changes, you have to be spot on so that the mechanics can do their job quickly.”

Will Stevens: “I’m very happy with our set-ups. The weather was a lot more like the conditions we can expect during the season, so it’s essential to perform well and get some confidence. These are the last two days before the start of the championship and the work we’re doing here is very important. We’ll find out at Monza who’s done the best work this winter. Kevin and Antonio will be very solid, and Marco and Stoffel too. I hope to be in the mix too.”

Antonio Felix da Costa: “It’s great to finish the day like this. The car was a little off balance to start with but we did some good work and got back on our feet. With the two sets of new tyres, we found a lot of pace from the off. We did have a few technical issues, though, and that held our programme up. I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow because we’re planning to try out a few new set-ups.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 19 March 2013
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