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Formula Renault 3.5

Fresh from driving 1,500 kilometres in Formula One testing for Scuderia Ferrari and Sahara Force India F1 Team, Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) returned to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with a bang by clocking the fastest lap of the day. With a time of 1:29.086, he finished just ahead of Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports).

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series starting grid will be slightly different for this meeting, the third-last of the season. Kevin Korjus has left Teams’ championship leaders Tech 1 Racing to join Lotus. His place in the French team is taken by Daniel Abt, who was second in the GP3 Series this year. The German is making his debut in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, along with Aaro Vainio – who joins Team RFR in place of Anton Nebilitskiy – and Tamás Pál Kiss (BVM Target), the first Hungarian to race in the competition.

The first collective testing session took place in wet conditions, making it a tricky introduction to the Formula Renault 3.5 for Daniel Abt, Támas Pál Kiss and Aaro Vainio. The championship frontrunners then gradually picked up the pace, with Marco Sorensen (Lotus) registering a slight improvement to lead at the session’s mid-point. However, with the chequered flag approaching, the Dane lost top spot to Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham). The Red Bull Racing Junior Team driver finished the morning on top with a time of 1:50.543, ahead of Marco Sorensen, Sam Bird (ISR), Robin Frijns and Mikhail Aleshin (Team RFR).

With no further rain forecast for the afternoon, and with the rest of the weekend seemingly set fair, the drivers enjoyed a dry for the duration of the session. This allowed them to complete their significant testing programmes and prepare for the weekend ahead. Arthur Pic (Dams), Marco Sorensen, Kevin Magnussen and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) set about improving their times, and with a lap of 1:30.202, it was Rossi who held a slight advantage at the halfway stage. The American maintained his momentum and recorded an even better time just a few minutes later, lapping in 1:29.888.

Kevin Magnussen then launched his final assault, swiftly followed by Marco Sorensen and Antonio Felix da Costa. But, at the end of the session, it was Jules Bianchi who took control, recording a series of fast laps. The Frenchman signed off with a brilliant fastest time of 1:29.086 to finish the day ahead of rookies Kevin Magnussen, Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa.

What they said

Jules Bianchi: “I’ve just completed 350 laps of the Magny-Cours circuit in two different Formula One cars, so I have to properly readjust to being back behind the wheel of the Formula Renault 3.5, and adapt to the different power and aerodynamic behaviour. I wasn’t really satisfied in the wet this morning, but we worked well in the second session and we have a very quick car this evening. The championship is very tight, and it’s as if we’re starting over from scratch.”

Daniel Abt: “I completed my first laps on a wet track, but the first thing that struck me about this single-seater is its power. I have to be realistic: I’m not going out straight away to challenge the drivers who have been competing in the championship since the start of the season. I’m here to learn, but I will still do everything I can to score points for Tech 1 Racing, as they are in the hunt for the Teams’ title.”

Tamás Pál Kiss: “Since it was officially confirmed that I will be competing, I’ve had numerous requests from the Hungarian media. It’s not going to be an easy weekend, though, because I have everything to learn about this single-seater. The first session was difficult because the track was wet, but not enough for the tyres to be really effective. It wasn’t easy driving the car for the first time like that. Things were much better in the afternoon. When I drove here in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the atmosphere in the grandstands was incredible. I hope it’ll be the same this year and that I can excite the crowd.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 14 September 2012
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