Launched in 1971, Formula Renault is one of the favourite categories for all drivers wanting to reach the highest level of motorsport. This year again, 27 hopefuls among the most promising drivers of their generation will arrive at the end of this week at Circuit Paul Ricard with one goal: take the advantage right from the first race of the year.
Recognized for its technical and sporting fairness, its high level of competition and its prestigious calendar, the Formula Renault Eurocup is more than ever the ideal stepping-stone for the champions of tomorrow.
This year will not be the exception to the rule with an extremely competitive international field. The season opening round will take place at Circuit Paul Ricard. Every champion in the category since 2011 has won on this track, which will host the F1 French Grand Prix!
Beginning this weekend, who will follow in the racing line of Robin Frijns, Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries, Lando Norris and Sacha Fenestraz and claim one of the two places up for grabs in the Renault Sport Academy in 2019?
Josef Kaufmann Racing aiming for three in a row
After taking Lando Norris and Sacha Fenestraz to the title, Josef Kaufmann Racing will try to become the first team to score the hat-trick in the spec-era of the Formula Renault Eurocup.
The German outfit will renew its confidence in Yifei Ye. The holder of new track records at Hockenheim and Circuit Paul Ricard, the Chinese driver turned many heads this winter and figures among the favourites on the track where he has five victories in F4 and a podium in the Eurocup.
In parallel, Richard Verschoor will rely on his experience to show that he was ousted too quickly from the Red Bull Junior Team. Meanwhile, rookie Clément Novalak will want to continue to surprise. An open-wheel newcomer this year, the two-time winner of the WSK Super Master Series has already won in the Toyota Racing Series as well as taking a pole position in BRDC F3.
R-ace GP has huge ambitions
The defending teams title champions, R-ace GP now wants to head to the very top step of the drivers’ podium. To get there, the Thibaut de Mérindol and Cyril Comte led squad will count on two members of the Renault Sport Academy: Max Fewtrell, who was the top rookie last year, and Victor Martins, who is the 2017 French F4 Junior Champion.
Last week, the Briton set best time at the Nürburgring and no doubt did the number 1 on his Formula Renault proud. The French team will also enter two other rookies: Charles Milesi, who has already put in some impressive runs, and Logan Sargeant, who finished third last year in the British F4 Championship and won at Circuit Paul Ricard in V de V last year.
Will Tech 1 Racing return to the top?
The always formidable Tech 1 Racing team is motivated to win its first titles since those they took with Pierre Gasly in 2013.
Simon and Sarah Abadie will count on their team leader Neil Verhagen. After quickly adapting to Europe, the American driver’s goal is to become the first member of the Red Bull Junior Team to win the championship since Brendon Hartley in 2007.
By his side will be rookie Alexander Smolyar, who is a protégé of SMP Racing and runner-up in Spanish F4 Championship last year. Thomas Neubauer, will try to make the most of his experience, as will Frank Bird, who has come over from Fortec Motorsports.
Will MP Motorsport surprise?
For its return last year to the Formula Renault Eurocup, MP Motorsport gradually improved with its three rookies.
This year, the team led by Sander Dorsman is taking a different approach with two of the most experienced drivers in Formula Renault: Max Defourny and Alex Peroni. Both have enjoyed prior success both at Circuit Paul Ricard and in the category.
They will be in the title chase hunt while also being solid references for Christian Lundgaard. Regularly at the top of the order this winter, the Dane and member of the Renault Sport Academy will be watched closely after his titles won in SMP F4 NEZ and the Spanish F4 Championship.
Arden Motorsport wants to confirm
Nine was the number of races it took Arden Motorsport to step on to the top of the podium with Daniel Ticktum.
Now without the winner of the Macao Grand Prix, the Ben Salter led team will rely on the experience of Alexander Vartanyan, who despite being a rookie scored all of JD Motorsport’s points in 2017.
The SMP Racing driver will have two promising rookie team mates, Australian Oscar Piastri, who finished runner-up in British F4 and Moroccan Sami Taoufik, who won the Ok European CIK-FIA Championship.
Will AVF by Adrián Vallés be back in business?
After taking Harrison Scott to the rookie title in 2015 and a race in in 2016, AVF by Adrián Vallés had a tough season last year.
To return to the sharp end of the order, Adrián Vallés has Mexico’s Axel Matus for another season. The 2016 Formula Panam and NACAM F4 champion will want to star for Escudería Telmex too.
Regulars in EuroFormula Open and the French F4 Championship, Eliseo Martinez and Christian Muñoz are very familiar with Circuit Paul Ricard. Both will be keen to prove themselves, as will Xavier Lloveras, who came to the category during the 2017 season.
The revival for JD Motorsport?
With ten titles in its racing history, JD Motorsport has one of the best track records in the Formula Renault Eurocup.
This year, Roberto Cavallari and Alfredo Cappelletti really hope to return to their glorious past. They have two return drivers who showed good form last year: Thomas Maxwell and Najiy Razak.
However, Lorenzo Colombo, who finished third in the Italian F4 Championship, could create a surprise. Constantly among the quickest during the winter, the Italian driver could become one of the revelations of the season!
Never under-estimate Fortec Motorsports!
Among the most renowned teams, Fortec Motorsports has enjoyed success with numerous talented drivers from Charles Leclerc and Ed Jones to Oliver Rowland and many others.
Coming over from R-ace GP, the experienced Raúl Guzmán wants to improve just as fast as he did in F4. The Mexican driver will be joined by Vladimir Tziotzis, who scored several podium results in SMP F4 NEZ
And finally, the French spectators will have the chance to follow the progress of Arthur Rougier. Six months to the day after winning the French F4 Championship on the same track, the French driver will now try to stand out to pay tribute to the colours of the Renault Sport Academy.
Formule Renault Eurocup
By the numbers
• 8 teams, 13 rookies & 14 sophomores this season.
• 9 circuits on the calendar also host Formula 1.
• 16 drivers within a second during the tests last month.
• 20 races, or two per meeting.
• 27 drivers representing 15 nationalities & 5 continents.
• 30 minutes + 1 lap, the new race length of the races (except Monaco).
• 100 %. Since the introduction of this generation in 2013, all the Formula Renault Eurocup laureates are now affiliated with an F1 team.
• 128 laps completed by Charles Milesi during the two days of pre-season testing at Circuit Paul Ricard (751,6 km, more than eight races).
• 1780,126 km driven by Victor Martins since the start of the year.
• 1970. April 19, The Formula France Critérium participated in the inauguration of Circuit Paul Ricard. Alain Serpaggi and his Alpine chassis took the win, one year before finishing second in the first Formula Renault Critérium.
• 2010, the last race at Hockenheim, which returns to the calendar in 2018.
• April 13-15: Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA)
• April 20-22: Monza (ITA)*
• May 18-20: Silverstone (GBR)*
• May 24-27: Monte-Carlo (MCO)
• July 20-22: Red Bull Ring (AUT)
• July 26 -28: Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)*
• August 31-September 2: Hungaroring (HUN)*
• September 13-16: Nürburgring (GER)
• September 21-23: Hockenheim (GER)
• October 19-21: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (ESP)*
*Collective tests scheduled ahead of meeting
Circuit Paul Ricard - Schedule
Friday April 13, 2018
9:00–9:50 Collective tests 1
13:45–14:35 Collective tests 2
17:20–17:35 Qualifying 1 (Group A)
17:40–17:55 Qualifying 1 (Group B)
Saturday April 14, 2018
11:00–11:15 Qualifying 2 (Group B)
11:20–11:35 Qualifying 2 (Group A)
14:55–15:27 Race 1
Sunday April 15, 2018
10:05–10:37 Race 2