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Formula Renault 3.5

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series is kicking off its ninth season today on the Motorland Aragon circuit. Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) set the fastest time in both sessions on this year’s first day of collective testing.

The 26 drivers in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series were welcomed by intermittent showers and wintry weather in Aragon. Nonetheless, the participants in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series managed to cover 835 laps during the morning, mainly on grooved tyres.

Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) was the first to break the 2-minute barrier, and as the clouds dissipated the drivers began to up the pace. Marco Sorensen (Lotus), Kevin Magnussen (DAMS), Vandoorne and Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) topped the time sheets. With half-an-hour to go to the end of the first session, Vandoorne was hopping up and down with impatience. “We’re still around ten seconds off last November’s times, but finally we can put on slicks.”

Helped by ‘el Ciérzo’, the wind that sweeps across Aragon, which chased away the clouds and dried out the track the drivers continued to improve and Vandoorne set the morning’s benchmark time. The winner of the 2012 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, who has recently joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme, got to within one-and-a-half-seconds of his best time in November 2012 (1mn 39.085s). Behind him came Müller, Daniil Move (SMP Racing by Comtec) and da Costa.

The track stayed dry all afternoon and the teams took advantage of these conditions to start doing in-depth work in this first general rehearsal trying to find the best setups. As is generally the case in private testing the Motorland Aragon track was at its best in the late afternoon and the times came tumbling down as a result. Nearly all of the 26 drivers made the most of the conditions to shod the second of the four sets of new tyres allocated to them for the two days. Müller, Move and Will Stephens (P1 Motorsport) swapped times at the head of the field.

Vandoorne had the last word as he was the only driver to get below the 1mn 40s mark. Da Costa and Move completed the first top three of the year. Among the debutants, apart from Vandoorne, Pietro Fantin (Arden Caterham), Matias Laine (P1 Motorsports) and Norman Nato (DAMS) made a promising start and set good times putting them in the top 10.


Stoffel Vandoorne: “The quickest time in the morning didn’t really mean anything as it was difficult to make any comparison in such changeable weather conditions. Thus, the afternoon was the perfect foil. Our work and results validated the choices we made during the winter. The stop watch says it all and that’s a boost to our confidence!”

Norman Nato: “The first day’s running of the year is very important to find your marks but the rain didn’t help things this morning. We were able to learn a lot more about the setup in the afternoon on a dry track. My off at the end of the session? I made a small mistake; it’s all part of the learning process!”

Antonio Felix da Costa: “Our priority was to do what had to be done to put us in the best possible position to tackle the first weekend’s racing at Monza. P1, P2 or P10 doesn’t matter, even if three years ago I would have been absolutely determined to finish first! Now, I’m concentrating on the technical side and I’m very satisfied with our work. It’s all looking good. I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 22 February 2013
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