Robert Shwartzman (Josef Kaufmann Racing) set quickest time in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 collective tests at the Autódromo Fernanda Pires da Silva do Estoril. The Russian SMP Racing backed rookie’s lap of 1:36.472 led the way from Max Defourny (R-ace GP) and Sahara Force India Academy protégé, Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Both finished behind Harrison Scott (AVF by Adrián Vallés) in the first session.
On Friday, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 competitors had two 50-minute collective tests sessions to learn or relearn the Estoril circuit.
Scott ahead in the morning
On a track unfamiliar to the majority of the drivers, the first 15 minutes saw no less than 20 leader changes. Julien Falchero (R-ace GP) set the first benchmark time before Jehan Daruvala moved to the top of the order.
With seven minutes remaining, Max Defourny launched the final sprint. Harrison Scott clocked the best lap of the session in 1:38.279, just ahead of a premature interruption provoked by Alex Peroni (TS Corse). The Briton and Belgian were followed by Jehan Daruvala, Alex Peroni and Julien Falchero.
Shwartzman takes over
In the afternoon, Dorian Boccolacci was the first to improve on the morning reference time, but the Frenchman was quickly bettered by Marcus Armstrong (R-ace GP).
Nikita Troitskiy (Fortec Motorsports) began the sprint final with six minutes left in the session, in which Robert Shwartzman came out on top with a time of 1:36.472. The Russian driver led from Max Defourny, Jehan Daruvala and Dorian Boccolacci. 2016 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion, Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) completed the top five in a session where the first 17 cars were separated by just one second.
Robert Shwartzman : “This is a new circuit for me. It is a nice track, though a little old and a bit slippery. We were sixth this morning on used tyres before changing the set-up, but we couldn’t measure the progress due to the red flag. In the afternoon, the difference between the used and fresh rubber was two and a half seconds ! I asked my engineer some oversteer-understeer changes and it was perfect for me. The first two laps were fantastic because I was fast and comfortable. I hope I can maintain this pace tomorrow in qualifying, while I try to finish overall for the season !”
Max Defourny : “We had a hard time getting up to speed, because like most everyone else, we were learning the circuit. The first session was rather difficult, but we finished reasonably well. In the afternoon, we improved, although I was blocked on my best lap. We will see tomorrow, but it looks like there is potential to do better despite the very small gaps. The goal this weekend is to make up for Spa and move back into second place in the championship.”
Harrison Scott : “The morning session was about getting to grisp with the circuit and to set best time in the opening session was good. We then struggled a little and were two/tenths off the pace on new tyres. Like at Spa, we should be faster tomorrow if we are to finish second in the general classification. Our goal is to finish ahead of Max and Dorian in the two last races and see if that is enough. I have to do my best and the weather forecast doesn’t scare me, we have a lot of rain in the UK !”