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Formula Renault 3.5

There are only seven weeks to go before the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series kicks off at Monza and virtually all of the 26 seats available have now been filled. The season looks set to be an intensely competitive one, with many drivers harbouring genuine hopes of landing the title and the Red Bull Racing-Renault Formula One test drive that comes with it.

Like last year, 13 teams will be taking part in the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and all of them will be pitching up at Motorland Aragon in Spain on 22-23 February for the first round of pre-season collecting testing.

Twenty-three of the 26 seats on the grid have already been taken. With an average age of 21, the drivers represent 13 different countries from three continents – Europe, Asia and the Americas – and 16 of them have Formula Renault 3.5 Series experience under their belts.

After ending 2012 on the highest of notes with four wins in the last five races, Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham Motorsport) is a firm favourite to succeed Robin Frijns as champion in the category. Fourth in the final standings after missing the first three meetings, the Red Bull Junior Team driver will have to contend with the pressure of being the man to beat.

Sixth last year and a race winner at Spa-Francorchamps, Denmark’s Marco Sorensen has also opted for stability by staying with Lotus. Both he and Dutch team-mate Marlon Stockinger also form part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team.

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 rivals last year, Stoffel Vandoorne and Norman Nato have both stepped up to Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The recipient of a €500,000 award from Renault Sport Technologies for his 2012 championship win, Stoffel Vandoorne will be driving for Fortec and the McLaren Young Driver Development Programme, while Norman Nato has signed for DAMS.

A star performer in the category for many seasons now, 2010 champion Mikhail Aleshin has his sights set on a second title. The Russian will be driving once again for Tech 1 Racing, team champions in four of the last six seasons, and will be joined Nigel Melker, who landed a stunning third place on his first appearance at Silverstone last year.

Carlin team-mates in 2012, Kevin Magnussen and Will Stevens have both opted for a change of scene. Seventh last season and a winner at Spa-Francorchamps, the Dane, who is also a member of the McLaren Young Driver Development Programme, is now with DAMS, while the Briton, who came 12th in the 2012 standings, has joined P1 Motorsport.

A race winner in Russia last summer and eighth overall, Arthur Pic has also moved on, switching his allegiance to AV Formula.

Keeping faith with Andre Negrao and Nico Muller, International Draco Multiracing are the only team to stick with the same roster as last time. A former national Formula Renault 2.0 champion, the Swiss driver will be out to build on a fine debut campaign in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, the highlight of which was a second place in race one at the Nurburgring.

Last seen with Pons Racing in 2011, Oliver Webb returns to Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Fortec Motorsports. Having spent one year and half in Indy Lights, the UK driver is hoping to make his European comeback a successful one.

The youngest of the 23 confirmed starters is Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin. Not yet 17 and a half years old and the 2011 Formula Abarth champion, Sirotkin already has an Auto GP podium finish to his name and made his FR 3.5 Series debut with BVM Target at last year’s maiden World Series by Renault meeting at the Moscow Raceway.

Among the rookies, big things are expected of Malaysia’s Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin Motorsport), the British F3 runner-up, and of Finland’s Matias Laine (P1 Motorsport), who took fifth place in last year’s GP3 Series.

List of entrants
AV Formula (ESP)
Arthur Pic (FRA)/Yann Cunha (BRA)

Arden Caterham Motorsport (GBR)
Antonio Felix Da Costa (POR)/Pietro Fantin (BRA)

Carlin Motorsport (GBR)
Jazeman Jaafar (MAS)/Carlos HUERTAS (COL)

Lotus (CZE)
Marco Sorensen (DEN)/Marlon Stockinger (NED)

SMP Racing by Comtec (GBR)
Daniil Move (RUS)/Lucas Foresti (BRA)

Dams (FRA)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN)/Norman Nato (FRA)

International Draco Multiracing (POR)
Andre Negrao (BRA)/Nico Muller (SUI)

Fortec Motorsports (GBR)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL)/Oliver Webb (GBR)

Sergey Sirotkin (RUS)/TBA

P1 Motorsport (GBR)
Will Stevens (GBR)/Mathias Laine (FIN)

Pons Racing (ESP)
Zoel Amberg (SUI)/Nicolai Martsenko (RUS)

Tech 1 Racing (FRA)
Michael Aleshin (RUS)/Nigel Melker (NED)

Zeta Corse (ITA)

2013 collective testing schedule
22-23 February: Motorland Aragon (Spain)
8-9 March: Paul Ricard (France)
19-20 March: Circuit de Catalunya (Spain)

World Series by Renault 2013
6-7 April: Monza (Italy - Superstars Series)
27-28 April: Motorland Aragon (Spain - World Series by Renault)
24-26 May: Monaco (Formula One Grand Prix)
1-2 June: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium - World Series by Renault)
22-23 June: Moscow Raceway (Russia - World Series by Renault)
20-21 July: Red Bull Ring (Austria - World Series by Renault)
14-15 September: Hungaroring (Hungary - World Series by Renault)
28-29 September: Paul Ricard (France - World Series by Renault)
19-20 October: Circuit de Catalunya (Spain - World Series by Renault)

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 19 February 2013
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