Esteban Ocon (Art Junior Team) recorded the fastest time on the second day of collective testing at Barcelona, prevailing in an enthralling afternoon duel with Pierre Gasly (Tech 1 Racing), with Guilherme Silva (Koiranen GP) finishing third on the timesheets. In a damp opening session, meanwhile, it was Mikko Pakari (Fortec Motorsports) who took the honours.
There was a mixed bag of weather in store for the drivers on day two of collective testing at Barcelona, with conditions proving decidedly changeable at the Circuit de Catalunya. Saturday’s clear skies had given way to clouds and showers as day broke, while the sun was back out again in the afternoon to give the field an entirely dry track to run on.
Esteban Ocon was the first of the 42 drivers to shine on a cool and damp morning, the Frenchman taking up a lengthy residence at the top of the timesheets ahead of Koiranen GP duo Guilherme Silva and Nyck de Vries and his compatriots at Tech 1 Racing Matthieu Vaxiviere and Pierre Gasly.
“It’s a greasy track and it’s even worse when it’s soaking wet,” commented Matthieu Vaxiviere. “It’s slower and it can also catch you out a lot more.”
There were no major moves on the timesheets for a whole two hours, though all that would change as the skies cleared, the sun and cars between them virtually drying the track by the end of the session. With half an hour remaining, the slicks were on, allowing drivers to dip into the 1:46s. Leading the way with a time of 1:46.680 was the Finn Mikko Pakari, with Nyck de Vries, Patric Niederhauser (Jenzer Motorsport), Victor Franzoni (Koiranen GP) and Stefan Wackerbauer (Interweeten.com Racing) behind him.
Performance was the name of the game for the drivers and teams when they returned to a completely dry circuit after lunch break. Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon traded fastest times before Ocon won the day by a mere 23 thousandths, the Frenchman posting the quickest lap of the two-day gathering. With less than a second separating 20 drivers, the demanding Circuit de Catalunya provided confirmation that this season’s championship battle will be a tight one.
The last round of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 winter testing takes place at the Red Bull Ring on 15-16 April.
Mikko Pakari: “We weren’t focusing on performance yesterday and we practised starts and pit stops. I was quick in the rain this morning, and this afternoon I made a mistake in the final sector, which cost me a few tenths and probably second place.”
Guilherme Silva: “Testing at Motorland Aragon didn’t go well for us, but at least we worked on our pit stops and starts, while at Paul Ricard we were in the top five the whole time. At Barcelona we’ve been doing a lot of race simulations and we came away with the third-best time, which bodes well for the championship.”