After a first visit to Austria in 2013, the Formula Renault 3.5 community returns to the fast and undulating Red Bull Ring that was reinstated to the Formula 1 calendar since.
All the contenders for the win know the track, beginning with the leader in the general classification, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports). With three wins, five podium finishes and seven point scoring results in as many starts, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver was victorious here in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 two years ago.
Oliver Rowland has two rivals who could possibly take the championship lead ahead of the summer break. Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), the Frenchman in the Lotus F1 Team Junior, is 16 points adrift of the Englishman, but wants to follow in the tracks of Marco Sørensen who scored a resounding double for the Czech team in 2013. Third in the standings, Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) hopes to make up lost ground in Austria. The Malay is one of just two drivers who have already raced at the Red Bull Ring in Formula Renault 3.5 ; the other is current 10th place in points, Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing).
The others are refusing to admit defeat. Fourth overall and the highest placed rookie, Red Bull Junior Team driver Dean Stoneman (DAMS) will try, along with team mate Nyck de Vries (DAMS), from the McLaren Young Driver Development Programme, to return to the series of success by their team for the rookie trophy that was broken at the Hungaroring. The driver who put an end to this domination and who became the first rookie to win in 2015, Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport), hopes for a repeat of his Budapest performance at the Red Bull Ring.
Two other drivers to keep an eye on will be Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), who wants to return to the podium thanks to his knowledge of the track he acquired in F3 and the Porsche Supercup, and Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing). After a difficult start to the season, the Spaniard redressed the bar in Hungary and will aim even higher in Styria, following his best result in F1 two weeks ago with Manor, before he did even better in Silverstone on Sunday.
Eighth in points, Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) will give it all he has as he continues in search of a first podium of the season, as his team mate Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing) did in Hungary. The Swede hopes to capitalize on the progress he has made to move up the general classification order, while Meindert van Buuren (Lotus) will attempt to move back into the top ten. With three seventh place results, Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing) will try to take his racing to the next level.
For their part, Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport), Alfonso Celis (AVF), Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Bruno Bonifacio (International Draco Racing) and Philopaz Armand (Pons Racing) will be out to score points again after they all came up empty-handed at the Hungaroring where Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing) and Beitske Visser (AVF) picked up their maiden points of the season and hope to score more at the Red Bull Ring.
And for the first time since the creation of the World Series by Renault, the leader of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 will compete against the regulars in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Also in the lead of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC where he won a race at the Red Bull Ring last month, Louis Delétraz will make his debut with Comtec Racing. .
The first collective tests will be held on Friday at 17h10. The second will take place the next day at 9h20. The Saturday programme will be completed with qualifying sessions at 13h50 and 17h25. On Sunday, race 1 begins at 10h25, while the start for race two is scheduled for 18h20. They will be aired live on Eurosport 2 International, Eurosport UK and Eurosport 2 France.
Jean-Pascal Dauce, Competition Director Renault Sport Technologies : “The double Red Bull Ring round offers an ideal setting to end this first half of the season. It is a technical circuit, used by the sport’s elite just a few weeks earlier, where mistakes are penalised and whose configuration forces drivers to make a compromise between three long straights and the infield. With just eight opportunities to use the DRS, the management of this device will be very strategic and we’ve already seen several races this year that were not decided until the final laps ! With two qualifying sessions on Saturday and two races on Sunday, the collective tests will be capital and the margin for error will be very limited. What better way to prepare our competitors for the intense month of September, which awaits all of them after their holiday break !”
Formula Renault 3.5 Series
Qualifying 1 : M. Sørensen (DEN) 1:15.976.
Race 1 : 1. M. Sørensen (DEN) – 2. N. Melker (NED) – 3. K. Magnussen (DEN)
Qualifying 2 : M. Sørensen (DEN) 1:16.233.
Race 2 : 1. M. Sørensen (DEN) – 2. N. Melker (NED) – 3. K. Magnussen (DEN)