For the return of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the first time since 2005, Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) posted best time in collective testing with a lap of 1:49.138 on Friday. After dominating the private tests the day before, the championship leader did it again this morning, leading from Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing) and Sahara Force India Academy member, Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing). In the afternoon session, SMP Racing protégé, Robert Shwartzman (Josef Kaufmann Racing) took over form his team-mate in 1:49.433.
While Lando Norris set the tone on Thursday in dominating the two private sessions ahead of the Italian meeting, the entire field was present today to officially kick-off the hostilities.
Norris maintains the momentum
Under blue skies, Will Palmer (R-ace GP) and Harrison Scott (AVF by Adrián Vallés) were the first drivers to lead the way before Max Defourny (R-ace GP) got into the mix. At the mid-way point of the session, Dorian Boccolacci and Lando Norris were at the sharp end of the order.
The Frenchman had the advantage before the leader in the general classification posted the best time of 1:49.138 with seven minutes remaining. Jehan Daruvala was third ahead of Robert Shwartzman and James Allen (JD Motorsport) at the conclusion of a session where the top 13 were covered by less than a second.
Shwartzman relays Norris
In the afternoon, Robert Shwartzman, Jehan Daruvala and Lando Norris dominated early on before being dislodged half-way through the session by Sacha Fenestraz (Tech 1 Racing) and Dorian Boccolacci, who came out on to the track later.
Max Defourny did the same, but the pace picked up in the final five minutes. Dorian Boccolacci, Robert Shwartzman and Lando Norris battled for the top spot with the Russian getting the nod with a lap of 1:49.433. Dorian Boccolacci was second quickest again, followed by Lando Norris, Jehan Daruvala and Harrison Scott.
Lando Norris : “I am really satisfied with our speed. We concentrated on race simulations because our rhythm during the NEC meeting here in April was not ideal. We also put in fast stints, where drafting plays an important role at Monza, especially in qualifying. Even if your lap isn’t very good, it can compensate and make things interesting tomorrow. You have to constantly search for the good tow, while not being too close nor too far from the car in front of you. Several drivers can run up front, which will make the races more exciting, without overlooking the heat that could have an impact on the tyres.”
Dorian Boccolacci : “The collective tests were good, ending up P2 twice. It is rather positive to be at the front right from the start of the weekend, but it all has to come together tomorrow. We have more work to do with the engineers and the team to be successful in qualifying, but also move up a position and win. Drafting helps a lot on this track, but to anticipate and profit from it remains difficult.”
Robert Shwartzman : “It was a pretty good day ! The first session was about improving to finish fourth, at two/tenths of a second to my team mates. Then we did a race simulation in the afternoon. I was consistent, like on the fast laps and look forward to tomorrow. If the car is as good as it was today there shouldn’t be any problems. It will be important to concentrate on qualifying, get a good tow, be in the right place, drive well and have a bit of luck !”