Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) was the man to beat in the Formula Renault Eurocup collective tests on the streets of Pau. With his time of 1:13.870, the SMP Racing backed Russian led from Henrique Chaves (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports), who topped the morning time sheet. Renault Sport Academy member, Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing) was the fastest rookie of the day.
On Friday, the drivers had a 40-minute session to learn or re-learn the Pau circuit before a second session in which they ran in their qualifying groups, with 18 minutes of track time.
Peroni before the red flag
In wet conditions, Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Max Defourny (R-ace GP) were on top of the time sheet early along with Red Bull Junior Team driver Daniel Ticktum (Arden Motorsport). Max Fewtrell was the first to switch to slicks, but the session was stopped prematurely following the error of Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport).
Alex Peroni clocked the fastest lap with a time of 1:22.851. The Australian was followed by Sacha Fenestraz and rookies Zane Goddard (Arden Motorsport), Axel Matus (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Alexander Vartanyan (JD Motorsport).
Fenestraz and Shwartzman dominate their groups
In the afternoon, Sacha Fenestraz made the most of the dryer conditions to lead Group A with a lap of 1:14.126. Max Defourny. Will Palmer (R-ace GP), rookie Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Daniel Ticktum completed the top five.
Despite the stoppage provoked by Zane Goddard, Group B was the faster of the two. Robert Shwartzman set the benchmark time of the day in 1:13.870, ahead of Henrique Chaves, Alex Peroni and Tech 1 Racing’s Max Fewtrell and Gabriel Aubry.
Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP): “I didn’t think I would have so much fun on this kind of circuit! It’s bumpy, narrow and short…there isn’t one particularly fast corner, but the layout is a lot of fun. It takes your breath away having to pay attention to the smallest detail. I am thrilled to have set the best time in my very first session at Pau. It underlines good preparation both with the simulator and in the car. I hope to have the same pace tomorrow.“
I didn’t think I would have so much fun on this kind of circuit! It’s bumpy, narrow and short…there isn’t one particularly fast corner, but the layout is a lot of fun. It takes your breath away having to pay attention to the smallest detail.
Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing): “With my two wins in 2015, I have some great memories of Pau. Everything went rather well and I hope it continues tomorrow. The conditions were complicated this afternoon. We shouldn’t have stopped because it didn’t rain for very long, but we had a good time and the track improved lap after lap. Now I must keep cool, Pau doesn’t forgive any mistakes.”
Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports): “For a first time on a street circuit, Pau is maybe the most difficult for learning with narrow streets, sidewalks, the camber of the pavement… It is special and I really liked the experience! This morning, the conditions were very tricky and the session didn’t really allow for evaluating each driver’s pace. We finished on top, then third overall this afternoon. It would be great to stay in the top three on Saturday and Sunday.”
Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing): “It is truly a circuit apart. It’s an amazing feeling and it is nothing like the circuits I have already raced on. The first laps in the dry reinforced this impression. As a rookie, but also as a newcomer to this track, I think I had a good day as it concerns with the podium. In any case, that is the goal this weekend.”