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Negotiating the mid-season hurdle!

At Magny-Cours on Saturday June 19, the chequered flag at the end of race 1 will mark the mid-season point for the competitors in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Five drivers are currently grouped together within fifteen points of each other, with Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin) leading from Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing), Esteban Guerrieri (ISR), Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing) and Sten Pentus (Fortec). For all these drivers, the French leg of the World Series by Renault promises to be a key milestone, the bottom line being not to get left behind before the final run-in which is looking to be more open than ever this season.

Coming to the Magny-Cours circuit as championship leader in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Mikhail Aleshin wins the right to get behind the wheel of the Renault F1 R29 and perform the Renault F1 Team exhibition at this French round of the World Series by Renault. Two F1 cars will be at the race track in the heart of France’s Nièvre region, the second exhibition seat going to Nicolas Prost, the son of the four times F1 World Champion.

But it could easily have been Daniel Ricciardo or Esteban Guerrieri getting that privilege. After a perfect beginning to the season, with two victories and a second position from five races, Mikhail Aleshin was off the mark in the Czech Republic and came away from Brno with only two points. Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo took advantage to close the gap on the Russian, but Red Bull Racing’s F1 reserve driver had limited success at Brno, with a fifth place on the Sunday as his best result. So there is just a three point gap between Aleshin and Ricciardo now. Sten Pentus, who was third after the Monaco race, will also consider he missed out in the Czech Republic, scoring only five points. This puts him back down into fifth place in the Championship stakes.

While the leaders treaded water, Brendon Hartley and especially Esteban Guerrieri were notching up big points to totally relaunch their title campaign. Tech 1 Racing’s New Zealander, Brendon Hartley, claimed his first podium of the season on the Saturday, then scored precious points on Sunday. This enabled the other Red Bull Racing F1 reserve driver to jump from 7th to 4th in the overall standings of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. But the weekend’s most spectacular shift in the rankings is down to Esteban Guerrieri, who scored the maximum possible 30 points.

The Argentinean driver is on cloud nine right now. After offering Czech team ISR their first success in the discipline, this being the team’s first season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Esteban Guerrieri claimed both victories on the team’s home soil. Because he was absent from Monaco, this was effectively three consecutive wins for Guerrieri. Back in third place in the overall standings, he is just seven points behind the leader. At Magny-Cours, he will be a marked man, with his rivals acutely aware that his mercurial rise has to be countered.

Also looking to upset the fight between the five leaders will be Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing), Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) or again Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing), consistently up with the leading pack since the beginning of season and all looking for their first success of the year. Fresh from their first podium in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Filip Salaquarda (ISR) and Anton Nebilitkiy (KMP Racing) will want to confirm their good form at Magny-Cours too.

But let’s not forget the two French drivers in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Nathanaël Berthon (International Draco Racing), with two podiums -a third at Motorland Aragón and a second at Brno- firmly believes in his chances of victory, only a stone’s throw away from his home region of Auvergne. Always at ease on the Magny-Cours track, the other French contender Nelson Panciatici (Lotus Junior Racing), from Asnières sur Seine, would also love to make the Marseillaise sound out and offer Lotus Junior Racing a first win in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

Official Renault Sport Press Release

Posted: 16 June 2010
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