Ten years after hosting the first-ever World Series by Renault meeting, Belgium remains an essential stop on the calendar. For the eighth visit to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 races will share the billing with the much-anticipated debut of Renault Sport Trophy.
The on track activity will be completed by the French and Benelux Renault Clio Cups as well as the Renault Sport Show and Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 Show demonstration runs. Max Verstappen, who gained experience in Formula Renault 2.0 as he prepared his meteoric accession from karting to F1, will be at the wheel of the Red Bull Racing RB8.
In the paddock, spectators will have the chance to meet the competitors during the pit walk. There will also be plenty of entertainment and fun to be had in the Renault Village with concerts, driving simulators, the Pit Stop Challenge as well as the flipping-car display to raise road safety awareness.
Formula Renault 3.5 Series : whose turn is it ?
So far in the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series there have been three different winners in as many races. Coming off his success at Monaco, Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) is the new leader in the general classification and will want to build on his momentum at Spa, where he scored a podium finish in 2014. His team mate, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) is his closest rival and the Englishman will aim to get the upper hand, as will Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus) after his scoreless run at Monaco.
With two podium results already, Dean Stoneman (DAMS) hopes to have the same success as his predecessor in the Red Bull Junior Team : Carlos Sainz, who won both races at Spa last year. His team mate and McLaren Young Driver Development Programme driver, Nyck de Vries will share have the same objective.
Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing), Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport), Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing), Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Philopaz Armand (Pons Racing) all scored points in the Principality and they all hope to confirm their progress. An opposite situation to that of Meindert van Buuren (Lotus), Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing), Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport), Alfonso Celis (AVF) and Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing), who will need to bounce back. It is will be the same for Bruno Bonifacio (International Draco Racing) on a track where he has always stood out in Formula Renault 2.0.
After concentrating on his F1 duties last weekend, Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing) will return to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with big ambitions, while Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing) and Beitske Visser (AVF) will hope to score their first points of the season. The Dutch female driver scored her first points last year at Spa.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 : Louis Delétraz arrives as the leader
Louis Delétraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) is the man on form at the moment. The leader of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 picked up two wins at Motorland Motorland Aragón and ran his victory streak to three in the NEC in dominating last weekend at Silverstone.
Second in the championship and ten points behind, Dennis Olsen (Manor MP Motorsport) will return to the track where won his first race in the category last year. Third overall, Anthoine Hubert (Tech 1 Racing) comes to Belgium with solid ambitions following his two triumphs in the streets of Pau. Further back, Kevin Jörg (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Ben Barnicoat (Fortec Motorsports) and Matevos Isaakyan (JD Motorsport) want to run up front to get back in the championship battle.
Spa will represent a chance to bounce back for Callan O’Keeffe (Fortec Motorsports), Jake Hughes (Koiranen GP), Ignazio D’Agosto (Manor MP Motorsport) and leader of the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS, Jack Aitken (Koiranen GP), all in quest of a podium result.
Darius Oskoui (ART Junior Team), James Allen (ARTA Engineering), Harrison Scott (AVF), Simon Gachet (Tech 1 Racing) and Matthew Graham (AVF) all want to confirm their encouraging starts to the season. Defending Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Junior champion, Anton De Pasquale (Koiranen GP) will rely on his speed, as will second in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Ukyo Sasahara (ART Junior Team), to score their first points.
This goal will be shared by Martin Kodric (Fortec Motorsports), Luke Chudleigh (Fortec Motorsports), Hugo De Sadeleer (Tech 1 Racing), Amaury Richard (ARTA Engineering), Thiago Vivacqua (JD Motorsport), Amaury Bonduel (JD Motorsport) and Valentin Hasse-Clot (Manor MP Motorsport), who returned from Spain empty-handed.
The starting grid will be completed by the presence of several wild-cards, among whom are Bruno Baptista, Philip Hamprecht and Stefan Riener with Koiranen GP, Henrique Chaves (AVF), Ferdinand Habsburg (Fortec Motorsports), Nikita Mazepin (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Danylo Pronenko (BVM).
Renault Sport Trophy : the big debut
Following months of preparation, the Renault Sport R.S. 01s are finally ready for their competition debut. Each car will be confided to two drivers, one “Elite” and one “Prestige”. Each will have a qualifying session for the sprint races. The starting grid for the endurance race will be determined by the order of the “Prestige” drivers at the end of their session, as will also be the case at Silverstone and Le Mans. They will have to start the race and will score points in their category according to the intermediate classification fixed before the driver changes. The “Elite” competitors will inherit this scenario at the Hungaroring, Nürburgring and at Jerez.
The first collective tests at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo gave an indication of who should contend for top honours. The Zele Racing team posted the best time in “Elite” thanks to Italy’s Vittorio Ghirelli, who will team with Philippe Bourgois. The second car of the Austrian squad will be entrusted to former Eurocup Mégane Trophy title contender Bas Schothorst and Frenchman Philippe Haezebrouck.
Opposite him, the Dutchman will find some familiar faces, most notably at Equipe Verschuur. Coming from the Formula Renault 2.0, his cousin Steijn has shown to be fast and counts on optimizing his relationship with his father, Jeroen. The team’s second Renault Sport R.S. 01 will be driven by the Portuguese duo of Miguel Ramos and Antonio Coimbra.
Led by Jerry Canevisio and Piergiogio Testa, Oregon Team will also make its return to the World Series by Renault with three cars and big ambitions. 2012 FIA F2 champion, Luciano Bacheta will partner with past winner in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy, Niccoló Nalio. Very consistent in the tests, David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio figure among the contenders, as does the Brazilian tandem of Alan Hellmeister and Adalberto Baptista.
Based in Holland, V8 Racing will also line-up three Nismo V6 turbo engine powered cars. 2013 Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Junior champion, Roy Geerts will partner with Max Braams, who has plenty of past experience in the Renault Sport Technologies’ sedan series’. Former F1 test driver, Nicky Pastorelli will team with Diederik Sijthoff while the third car will be in the hands of former Formula Renault 3.5 Series racer Federico Leo and Sweden’s and Italy’s Stefano Constantini.
Competing in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the ART Junior Team will entrust their cars to two pairs worth following : Andrea Pizzitola and Richard Gonda, who have Formula Renault 2.0 experience, as well as Indy Dontje and Toni Forné, who was a force in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy. Monlau Competicion enters an all Belgian duo that will race on their home circuit : Wolfgang Reip, coming from the Nissan GT Academy, who will partner the only female driver in the field, Sarah Bovy.
The Formula Renault 3.5 Series races will be aired on a delayed basis on Eurosport International, Eurosport UK and Eurosport France, as will the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 on Eurosport 2. Motors TV will air the Renault Sport Trophy rounds, including the first Sprint race live. All the weekend’s action will be broadcast live on the Eurosport Player.
Jean-Pascal Dauce, Director of Motorsport, Renault Sport Technologies : “The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a historic motor racing venue and one of the few that still defies the drivers and the machines. It is the longest circuit on the calendar and one of the most challenging, because it is extremely difficult to put in a perfect lap. We are particularly excited about the idea of seeing the Renault Sport R.S. 01s maiden race. In the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, the low downforce settings on the rear wing on Saturday and the eight DRS impulsions on Sunday should pose an extra challenge. And finally, the Clio Cups and Formula Renault 2.0 always put on a massive show for this passionate motor racing public that we look forward to seeing !”
Formula Renault 3.5 Series
Qualifying 1 : C. Sainz (ESP) 1:58.681.
Race 1 : 1. C. Sainz (ESP) – 2. P. Gasly (FRA) – 3. J. Jaafar (MAS)
Qualifying 2 : C. Sainz (ESP) 1:58.319.
Race 2 : 1. C. Sainz (ESP) – 2. W. Stevens (GBR) – 3. O. Rowland (GBR)
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Qualifying 1 : N. de Vries (NED) 2:17.058.
Race 1 : 1. D. Olsen (NOR) – 2. N. de Vries (NED) – 3. B. Bonifacio (BRA)
Qualifying 2 : N. de Vries (NED) 2:16.875.
Race 2 : 1. B. Bonifacio (BRA) – 2. D. Olsen (NOR) – 3. N. de Vries (NED)