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Formula Renault 3.5

While the World Series by Renault family celebrated the news that Sauber F1 Team have added Robin Frijns, the 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, to their line-up as a reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) turned on the power at Motorland Aragon. The Belgian, who inherited Frijns’ Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 crown this year, outpaced everyone with a time of 1:39.085, the fastest lap of the three-day get-together and a new track record.

There were a number of changes in the line-up for the last day of collective testing this year. After spending Wednesday and Thursday with Dams, Stoffel Vandoorne linked up with Fortec Motorsports to take to the wheel of the car Robin Frijns used this last season. Meanwhile, European F3 Open champion Niccolo Schiro moved over to Tech 1 Racing, Russia’s Dimitri Suranovich joined forces with P1 Motorsport and Lucas Foresti teamed up with AV Formula. Elsewhere, Nick Yelloly (Pons Racing) and Nico Muller (International Draco Racing) made their returns to the FR 3.5, Norman Nato and Carlos Sainz Jr paired up at Dams for the day, and Finland’s Mattias Laine took over from Antonio Felix da Costa at Arden Caterham.

The field revelled in the perfect conditions at the start of the day. Marco Sorensen (Lotus) kicked off hostilities, though it was not long before Red Bull Junior Team duo Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat (Fortec Motorsports) locked horns in a battle for top spot.

Under the watchful eye of his two-time World Rally Championship-winning father, Carlos Sainz Jr was the first man to dip under the benchmark time set by Kevin Magnussen (Dams) on Thursday, the young Spaniard putting in a lap of 1:39.432. Nevertheless, it was reigning Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion Stoffel Vandoorne who ended the morning atop the timesheets, the Belgian pipping Carlos Sainz Jr with a time of 1:39.362, with Norman Nato, Daniil Kvyat and Marco Sorensen rounding off the top five.

The afternoon began in low-key fashion as Italian outfit International Draco Racing sent out their drivers for busy programme of testing. In contrast, the end of the session resembled a qualifying shootout, with Marco Sorensen laying down the gauntlet and Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Muller picking it up. Drawing on the advice of Robin Frijns, Stoffel Vandoorne had the last word, however, coming out late on to shave the track FR 3.5 record down to 1:39.085 and leave Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Muller behind him in second and third places respectively.

What they said:

Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s great to finish the year like this, and it feels pretty good to beat Robin’s record with his car and with him looking on. It wasn’t easy because I had an oil leak this afternoon, which meant I was out for less time than expected. Now comes the hard part: choosing the right team. This result is obviously going to be important in the choice we make, though there are a lot of other things to take into consideration.”

Nico Muller: “We had some important development work to do with the team. There are a few things we’ve been meaning to try out and have never had the time to do. It was a bit frustrating to see the others fighting it out for first place without us this morning, but it was something we had to do. We stepped up the pace at the end of the day, and though there are still some things we need to tweak, we’re moving on with our plans to be in the mix next year.”

Jazman Jaafar (Carlin): “It’s been great to have had these two days with Carlin. We did some race simulations, got some wheel-changing practice in and made quite a few adjustments. I’m starting to get to grips with this car, and if we do drive in Formula Renault 3.5 Series next season, then these tests will come in very handy for us.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 24 November 2012
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