Following the season opener at Motorland Aragón, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series comes to Monaco with Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) as the leader in the general classification. Fifth last year in Monaco, the Racing Steps Foundation protégé will not only have the chance to extend his championship lead, but also shine in front of the Formula 1 community.
The other drivers hope to stand in the Englishman’s way, including Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), who also won in Spain. Forced to retire due to injury in 2014, the Lotus F1 Team Junior driver very much wants to show that he returns stronger than ever. To ready himself for the unique challenge a street circuit presents, the Frenchman scored a podium result at Pau in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS last weekend.
Third and top rookie at Monaco in 2013, and third again in 2014, Jazeman Jaafar will be keen to make an impression and close ground to his Fortec Motorsport team mate, Oliver Rowland.
Victorious last year with Norman Nato, the DAMS team will count on Nyck de Vries and Dean Stoneman. In his first race on an urban track, the winner of the 2014 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and McLaren Young Driver Development Programme protégé ran the table in the ALPS Championship round at Pau last year. The Englishman, member of the Red Bull Junior Team, will, for his part, have the delicate task of discovering Monaco, five years after his F2 success on the temporary Marrakech circuit.
Finishers in the points in both races at Motorland Aragón, Meindert van Buuren (Lotus) and Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) want to confirm their good starts to the season. The Dutchman finished in the top ten last year, while the Frenchman will be able to rely on his Monaco experience, as will Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing), Beitske Visser (AVF) and Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing).
Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport), Alfonso Celis (AVF), Bruno Bonifacio (International Draco Racing), Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing), Philopaz Armand (Pons Racing), Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing) and Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) all have street circuit experience, but they are taking on the challenge that is the legendary Monaco circuit for the first time. It will be the same for Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport), second in the Formula Renault 2.0 Pau Trophy in 2013, and Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing), who ran for the first time on an urban track last weekend at Pau.
To replace Roberto Merhi, who will focus on Formula 1 this weekend, Pons Racing has called up Alex Fontana. The Swiss-Greek driver will make his debut in the category, seven months after testing the Formula Renault 3.5 at Jerez, where he posted the second best time of the day.
The planning and scheduling will live up to this exceptional event. The Formula Renault 3.5 Series will have a 45-minute practice session on Friday morning before being divided into two qualifying groups for 25-minutes on Saturday. Broadcast live on the Eurosport Player and Canal + Sport, the race will be the curtain raiser for the Grand Prix of Monaco, from 11:10. It will then be re-aired on Eurosport International and Eurosport France.
”Organizing our Monegasque meeting as the curtain raiser for the Formula 1 Grand Prix is always particularly exciting and it rewards Renault’s long term investment in motor racing and the promotion formulas”, declares Régis Fricotté Director of Communications for Renault Sport Technologies. “Besides the privilege of watching the Formula Renault 3.5s at full-speed between the Armco, the challenge is all the more intense, because our competitors battle ahead of the most prestigious of all motor racing disciplines and they try to stand out even more than usual ! Those who triumph at Monaco are thrust into the sport’s limelight and past winners such as Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Pic, Nico Müller, Pastor Maldonado and Sam Bird have gone on to become successful professional drivers. Thanks to our agreement with the Automobile Club de Monaco, we will also put on a demonstration Friday at mid-day with the Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Renault 2.0, Renault Sport R.S. 01 and the Clio R.S. 220 EDC Trophy.”
Qualifying : N. Nato (FRA) 1’23’’209
Race : 1. N. Nato (FRA) – 2. M. Sørensen (DEN) – 3 J. Jaafar (MAS)