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Formula Renault 3.5

No sooner has the 2012 campaign ended than teams and drivers are getting ready for 2013. The first of two days of Formula Renault 3.5 Series testing at Catalunya brought together 24 drivers, with more set to join them tomorrow. Driving for Dams on Tuesday, Kevin Magnussen was the day’s fastest man, breaking the FR 3.5 Series track record with a time of 1:28.721.

The two-day testing get-together in Barcelona gives drivers a valuable opportunity to start their preparations for next season. Of the 24 racers on show on Tuesday, only 11 competed in Formula Renault 3.5 Series this season, while Norman Nato was the only man from the 2012 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 field. The remaining participants mainly hailed from Formula 3, Formula 2, GP3 Series and, in the case of Marcus Ericsson, from GP2 Series. Also out on the track was newly crowned Eurocup Megane Trophy champion Albert Costa, who was enjoying a day’s testing as reward for his title win, thanks to an agreement between Renault Sport Technologies, Oregon Team and International Team Draco.

It was also a landmark day for AV Formula. Run by Adrian Valles, a Formula Renault 3.5 Series runner-up to Robert Kubica in 2005, the local outfit was making its debut in the category, having replaced Team RFR. The two behind the wheel for them were Arthur Pic and Marlon Stockinger, who claimed one race win in finishing tenth in this season’s GP3 Series.

Kevin Magnussen dominated the morning in his Dams single-seater, the McLaren Driver Development Programme member beating the circuit’s lap record three times at the end of the session. His fastest time of 1:29.132 put him ahead of Will Stevens, who was at the wheel of the car Robin Frijns drove en route to the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title, with Nico Muller third in an International Draco Racing car.

Maintaining his speed in the afternoon, Kevin Magnussen ended the day as the only driver to dip under the 1:29 barrier, with a fastest lap of 1:28.721. Behind him on the timesheets were Nico Muller and Marcus Ericsson.

What they said:

Kevin Magnussen: “It’s interesting to see how other teams work and to drive single-seaters for other outfits. Today I was with Dams, and tomorrow I’ll be driving for Fortec Motorsports. What with the race and these tests I’ve done a lot of driving, but it’s a good way to prepare for 2013. The conditions were perfect today, which explains why the times were so good.”

Marcus Ericsson: “This is my first time driving this single-seater. The lap times are similar to that of a GP2, though the timing’s done differently. Formula Renault 3.5 is faster in the corners, and I’ll need to change my driving style to maintain speed round the turns. I need to do more laps, but I’m really happy with my first day.”

Albert Costa: “It’s not easy to switch from the Megane Trophy to the Formula Renault 3.5 and it’s been a long time since I’ve driven a single-seater. I struggled with my arms because the constraints are so hard to replicate in the gym. What I need to do is get more driving under my belt. I didn’t drive the car today. It drove me. I’ve never been at the wheel of this version of the Formula Renault 3.5 before but it’s very efficient. I need to do more testing in it.”

Norman Nato: “It’s the first time I’ve driven a single-seater as powerful as this and it’s a big change from Formula Renault 2.0. I’ll need some time to adapt, which is why it’s just perfect to be able to do a couple of days’ testing with Arden Caterham. I need to get used to the environment and build my confidence so I can really give it a go. This car suits me pretty well because it generates a lot of downforce.”

Adrian Valles, AV Formula Team Principal: “It’s a great day for AV Formula. We’re on the way to building a solid team, the idea being for us to get up there quickly with the leading outfits. I always drove to win and it’s the same here now I’m in charge of my own team. We’d also love to compete in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, though nothing’s been sorted out yet.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 23 October 2012
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