It was an early 8am start for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in Monaco. The drivers had 45 minutes to prepare as best they could for their race that will be the curtain raiser for the F1 Grand Prix.
First to leave the pits, Lando Norris made the most of a clear track to complete the first lap in the category at Monte-Carlo and dominated the opening quarter-hour before Ferdinand Habsburg, Max Defourny (R-ace GP) and Sacha Fenestraz made it a four-driver fight for the top spot.
The British rookie answered back at the half-way point in the session before the field went with fresh Michelin rubber. Sacha Fenestraz was the first to improve his time, but the session was interrupted when his team mate Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing) went off at the swimming pool corner.
The session went back to green for the final three minutes. Lando Norris put in the quickest lap of the morning as the chequers were shown with a time of 1:32.178. He was followed by Ferdinand Habsburg, Sacha Fenestraz, Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing) and Will Palmer (R-ace GP). Max Defourny, Henrique Chaves (AVF by Adrían Vallés), Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Bruno Baptista (Fortec Motorsports) and Gabriel Aubry completed the top ten.
The drivers will be back on track Saturday morning from 9-9:55am for the lone qualifying session.
Lando Norris : “I had never driven on an urban circuit before. It is very different and a lot of fun. I prepared as much as I could on the simulator and I did a good job for my first time although qualifying will be long. The track will change enormously and improve between now and tomorrow and we have to make sure we put in the best run possible at the end of the session to take advantage of the best conditions.”
Ferdinand Habsburg : “It’s really special to drive in Monaco. I love it ! It was my first time running on a street circuit and after spending a lot of time studying videos, working on the simulator and preparing as best as possible, it’s what I expected it to be. People don’t realize just how much elevation change there is. For qualifying tomorrow, I have to try to wait as long as possible for the best position on the track to avoid traffic. It will be hard, but it will be the same for everybody and it will be important to put in a lap in case there is a red flag. It’s going to be on the limit all the time without making a mistake !”
Sacha Fenestraz : “It was a long session in which we could put in a lot of laps, except with the new tyres because of the red flag. After that, Norris and Habsburg were able to improve but not me, but we were consistently up front and happily Gabriel is okay. Tomorrow, qualifying will be tough because you absolutely have to have clear laps. There is a lot of work to still do from now until then, but it will be very interesting. The circuit is wonderful. It is a lot faster than Pau and there is less time to relax on the straights. I love this type of track. It is really a lot of fun to come within inches of the barriers and brush the limits !”